(Montreal) It was a party night, Saturday at the Bell Center.

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard scored three times in the second period and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-2.

Harvey-Pinard became the first Canadiens rookie to score a hat trick in a single period since Dick Gamble on March 2, 1952 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The 24-year-old Quebecer first gave the Canadiens a 3-2 lead early in the second period. His third goal gave the Habs a 6-2 lead.

Against an opponent ranked 31st overall in the NHL heading into Saturday’s games, the Canadiens were in a class of their own. Fans enjoyed themselves throughout the final third, waving and chanting “Olé!” Ole! Ole! “.

Nick Suzuki had a goal and three assists, Mike Hoffman had a goal and two assists, while Brendan Gallagher and Jesse Ylönen each provided a goal and an assist for the Canadian (29-38-6). Alex Belzile also hit the target, Mike Matheson had three assists and Samuel Montembeault made 21 saves.

Kirill Marchenko and Lane Pederson replied for the Blue Jackets (23-42-7), who had won their previous two games in overtime. Elvis Merzlikins allowed six goals on 24 shots before making way for Michael Hutchinson late in the second period. Hutchinson stopped six pitches.

Merzlikins appeared to injure his right groin on Harvey-Pinard’s third goal. He took over the direction of the locker room during the following stoppage of play.

Jordan Harris returned to action for the Canadiens after an eight-game absence with a lower-body injury. Chris Wideman gave him his place in the defensive brigade.

The Canadian will play Monday in Buffalo against the Sabers, then Tuesday in Philadelphia against the Flyers.

The Blue Jackets were the first to score, 1:32 into the game, when Pederson scored moments after a turnover from Joel Edmundson.

The response from the Canadian was quick. Hoffman beat Merzlikins with an accurate shot at 3:39. Ylönen then gave the Habs the lead at 9:43 after a three-on-two attack.

Johnny Gaudreau hit the post on a Blue Jackets power play, but it was only a postponement for the visitors.

Marchenko tied the game 2-2 with 120 seconds left on the clock. He threaded the needle by shooting over Montembeault’s left shoulder despite a near impossible angle.

The goal was initially disallowed since the net had left its moorings. However, video officials determined that the disc would have gone into the goal even if Montembeault had not moved the net on the footage.

Harvey-Pinard put the Habs back in front 13 seconds into the second period. He shoved a free disc into the goal after a nice run up from Matheson.

The pride of Arvida, in Saguenay, then hit the mark at 7:13, completing a nice exchange started by Suzuki and Hoffman.

Jonathan Drouin and Matheson took turns hitting the post midway through the second period, but that didn’t come back to haunt the Canadiens.

Gallagher capped a long streak in Blue Jackets territory by scoring his first goal since Jan. 3 at 13:08 into the period.

Harvey-Pinard then completed his hat trick with 3:18 left in the second period. On a powerplay, he deflected a powerful one-timer pass from Hoffman in the opener.

The third period was just a formality.

Belzile joined the party with 8:12 to go when his pass to Chris Tierney was deflected into his own net by Blue Jackets defender Andrew Peeke.

Suzuki then turned the iron into the wound 2:01 later.