MONTREAL (AP) - Lars Eller wanted to cherish this offensive outburst for as long as possible.
Eller entered this season with only nine goals in 84 career NHL games, so netting four and adding an assist in the Montreal Canadiens' 7-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night was something to be savored.
``You never know when you're going to go out there again, so you better make it last,' Eller said.
Eller's outburst helped the Canadiens shake off the effects of a poor road trip. He scored his fourth goal of the game on a penalty shot 11 minutes into the third, spinning around to beat Chris Mason for his third tally of the period.
He did a backward somersault over the Winnipeg backup goalie to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 21,273.
``I kind of decided before I went down that I wanted to do that spin move,' Eller said. ``I knew the goalie was cold so it's a good one, you're always sure to get your shot off.'
Travis Moen had three assists, and Andrei Kostitsyn had two as Eller's line combined for 10 points.
``It might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, four goals,' Eller said. ``It's just incredible, and I just want to thank my teammates for helping me. If you look at the goals, a lot of the goals are Travis and Andrei doing a pretty amazing job. I'm just in the right place at the right time.'
Montreal, which went 1-5 on its recent trip, won for the second time in nine games - the last eight since interim coach Randy Cunneyworth took over for the fired Jacques Martin on Dec. 17.
Josh Gorges, Tomas Kaberle and Michael Cammalleri also scored for the Canadiens, who improved to 6-7-6 at home. Carey Price made 24 saves. Erik Cole had two assists.
``It was an extremely exciting night for Lars,' said Cammalleri, who scored between Eller's second and third goals as Montreal tallied three goals in 50 seconds early in the third to go up 6-2. ``We're very happy for him. This will be one he'll remember forever, probably one of the highlights of his lifetime.
``It would be for any of us, so it was pretty, pretty cool.'
Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist, including a power-play tally 17:51 into the second to draw Winnipeg within 3-2. Tim Stapleton's sixth goal gave the Jets a 1-0 lead 3:41 in. Andrew Ladd scored the Jets' final goal with 6:57 left.
Ondrej Pavelec made 18 saves before he was replaced by Mason 6:49 into the third. Mason stopped six shots for Winnipeg, which had a three-game winning streak broken.
``The biggest thing is that we weren't prepared to do the things that we've been doing for the past month, and it showed,' Jets coach Claude Noel said.
Gorges and Eller scored 43 seconds apart in the first as Montreal bounced back from Stapleton's early goal.
Gorges, who signed a six-year, $23.4 million contract extension on Monday, got Montreal even 13:24 in. The 27-year-old defenseman beat Pavelec with a shot from the point through traffic for his second goal of the season.
Eller made it 2-1 with his fifth goal at 14:07.
Kaberle made it a 3-1 lead 5:32 into the second with a slap shot past Pavelec for his first goal in 49 games, dating to last season.
Eller scored his second of the game 2:41 into the third, and Cammalleri made it 5-2 with his ninth at 3:03.
The Canadiens got their third goal in 50 seconds when Eller completed his first NHL hat trick at 3:31, beating Pavelec with a shot from the right edge of the crease that put Montreal up 6-2.
``They were ready to play,' said Pavelec, who was replaced by Mason during a timeout 3 minutes later. ``We started to turn the puck over and that was the key. You can't play that way, especially in the third. We made the mistakes and they scored the goals.
Referee Marcus Vinnerborg awarded Eller a penalty shot after the 22-year-old Danish center was tied up by former Montreal defenseman Ron Hainsey on a breakaway.
Eller went wide to the right as he came in on Mason before spinning around in the crease and scoring his eighth goal of the season. He become the first Canadiens player to score four times in a game since Jan Bulis did it at Philadelphia on Jan. 25, 2006.
NOTES: Wheeler has three goals and two assists in three games against Montreal this season. ... Kaberle, who began the season with Carolina, hadn't scored since March 24 for Boston in a 7-0 win over the Canadiens.
The Associated Press News Service
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