The Canadiens downed the Nashville Predators 3-2 Thursday for their third straight win since Recchi, the team's leading scorer, was traded to Philadelphia last week.
"Since Mark left, I think that we might be playing a little better as a team," said defenseman Stephane Quintal. "Sometimes I think we rely on our big players too much."
"Stevenson worked hard on the game-winner," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. "He nailed Tommy Fitzgerald and he's still a little sore. And after they took the lead, they put pressure on us. They're a much larger team. They really played desperate hockey."
Stevenson took out two Predators along the boards before heading towards the net and beating Mike Dunham between the legs.
"We tried to play fancy in the first two periods and it cost us," said Stevenson. "In the third, we did what we should have been doing the whole game. We dumped the puck in and didn't try to rush the puck in."
Vladimir Malakhov and Vincent Damphousse also scored for Montreal, which trails eighth-place Boston by five points in the Eastern Conference. Patrick Poulin had two assists. Saku Koivu had an assist and now has 12 points in as many games.
Denny Lambert and Vitali Yachmenev scored for Nashville. Greg Johnson had two assists and Mike Dunham made 30 saves.
Yachmenev gave the Predators the lead early in the third period with a shorthanded goal. He beat Jeff Hackett after a perfect pass from Johnson on a 2-on-1.
But Damphousse made it 2-2 at 6:40 when Poulin redirected Igor Ulanov's shot to the Canadiens captain, who had an open net.
"After our power-play goal in the third, the coach put me on a line with Poulin and Stevenson nd it clicked right away," said Damphousse, who now has three points in his last two games. "They are two guys who really forecheck well and give me a lot of space."
Malakhov opened the scoring with less than 20 seconds left in the first period on the power play.
The Canadiens have scored three power play goals in their last two games after going 1-for-25.
Predators forward Sebastien Bordeleau had several good scoring chances but failed to extend his point-scoring streak to six games. He missed an open net and was stopped by Hackett later in the second period after skating in alone from the corner.
Notes: Canadiens forward Martin Rucinsky returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with a shoulder injury. Fellow forward Shayne Corson (sprained ankle) missed his third straight game, while defenseman Craig Rivet also sat out (strained groin). Defenseman Patrice Brisebois (shoulder separation) is out for an indefinite period ... The Predators were without defenseman Jamie Heward (heel bruise) and forward Darren Turcotte (strained knee). Both are day-to-day. Defenseman Jay More (concussion) is a long-term casualty.
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