Since the beginning of the season, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett surveyed forwards Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal about who they thought could be the missing piece for their line.

Whether suggested from one side or the other, winger Martin Erat’s name continually popped up in the conversation and Vrbata considered him a fit. Both he and Erat are the same age, 32, so they grew up together in the Czech Republic national system.

All figured that familiarity, along with Erat’s success in a system in Nashville that is particularly similar to what the Coyotes do, would suit Vrbata.

And they were right.

In Erat’s debut Thursday after he was acquired in a four-player trade Tuesday with the Washington Capitals, Vrbata scored twice and his line with Erat racked up four points in leading the Coyotes to a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in front of 15,282 at Arena.

“Hopefully we’ll get even better as we practice more together and skate together and play more games together,” Vrbata said. “So hopefully this is just the start.”

Ten different players tallied a point, and center Kyle Chipchura, who worked between Erat and Vrbata, had a pair of assists. So did center Mike Ribeiro.

“I think Chip played great,” Vrbata said. “It will be tough for Marty (Hanzal) to get back.”

Goalie Mike Smith finished with 24 saves in helping the Coyotes to their first win against the Canadiens since Dec. 9, 1998.

The Coyotes had three goals in the first period, including one on Erat’s first shift on the Coyotes’ first shot of the game. Vrbata tipped a shot from David Schlemko with Erat acting as a screen at 2:08.

“It was great,” Erat said. “They hold onto the pucks, and they do a lot of work in the zone. I know that’s where I’m most effective when we play in the offensive zone.”

The Canadiens appeared to tie it at 7:13 when a one-timer from defenseman Andrei Markov rang off the post and then the camera in the net, but play continued. During the next stoppage, the play was reviewed and the goal counted.

The Coyotes regained the lead on the power play with another redirection in front of Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj. This time, winger Lauri Korpikoski tipped a shot from defenseman Michael Stone at 15:04.