BOSTON — All-Star goalies Tim Thomas and Carey Price admitted their hearts weren't in it when they squared off to fight in a wild second period.
And for most of the game, they played goal the same way.
Milan Lucic scored twice in a wild second period, and Nathan Horton had a goal and four assists for Boston as the Bruins outslugged and outlasted the Montreal Canadiens to win 8-6 on Wednesday night.
The teams combined for 182 penalty minutes, including seven apiece for Thomas and Price during a second-period fight that left the penalty boxes overflowing and the ice littered with equipment.
"I think we were just play-fighting more than anything," Price said. "Neither of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess."
Michael Ryder had two goals of the career-high eight Price allowed. David Krejci had three assists, and Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid also scored for Boston, which beat its Original Six rival for the first time this season and extended its lead in the Northeast Division to four points.
Boston had 24 penalties, and Montreal was called for 21.
"Today was a big game. A lot of points were on the line. Important points," said Canadiens forward Brian Gionta, who scored his 200th NHL goal. "It's just an emotional game, and that's what you saw out there."
Max Pacioretty scored two of Montreal's four power play goals as the Canadiens lost in regulation for just the third time in 10 games. P.K. Subban, Yannick Weber and David Desharnais added goals for Montreal; it was a season-high in goals allowed for Thomas, who leads the NHL in save percentage and goals-against average.
That wasn't the only contact the goalies saw. During a second-period brawl that left five Bruins and four Canadiens in the penalty box, Thomas sprinted down the ice and challenged Price.
The players spent more time shedding their gloves and masks than actually punching.
"He fought with 'fighter's manners,' as far as not hitting you when you're down," Thomas said. "We were just in the All-Star game together. We're on friendly terms. It was business. But once business is done, it's done."
A more conventional fight broke out with 41 seconds to play, with eight players squaring off — four of them receiving game misconducts. At the end, the Bruins had just five skaters left on the bench and Montreal six.
Marchand and Seidenberg scored 12 seconds apart to give Boston a 2-0 lead in what turned out to be a relatively tame first period. That was neutralized when Gionta scored 25 seconds into the second period and Subban tied it 8 minutes later.
Then things got weird.
In quick succession, the Bruins went ahead; Montreal tied it; Boston took the lead again and then made it 5-3 on Lucic's first goal — and Horton's third assist — with 7:29 left in the second. Five seconds after the faceoff, players began squaring off in the corner at the Canadiens' end and, after Price skated over, Thomas sprinted at his Montreal counterpart.
Just a punch or two later, Thomas was on the ice. And 12 seconds into the resulting Montreal power play, Desharnais cut the deficit to 5-4. But Lucic made it a 6-4 game two minutes later on a short-handed goal.
In all, the teams combined for eight goals in the second period — seven in a 6:19 span — as the game went from a 2-1 duel to a 6-4 shootout.
Pacioretty made it a one-goal game with 12:54 left. But just a minute after Ryder's would-be goal was waved off, he scored one that counted and restored Boston's two-goal lead.
Thomas is the first Bruins goalie to get a fighting major penalty since Byron Dafoe in 2002. … Montreal D James Wisniewski, who missed the previous two games with the flu, returned to the lineup. … Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was a healthy scratch. … It was Claude Julien's 300th game as Bruins coach, seventh-most on the team's career list.