The win put Montreal (35-30-6) a step closer to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while the Islanders (34-25-10) also remain in playoff position.
Latendresse also scored in the second and Michael Ryder had the other goal for the Canadiens, who won for the ninth time this season despite trailing entering the third.
Alexei Yashin, Ryan Smyth on a penalty shot, and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored for the Islanders, who lost for only the sixth time in 28 games since Jan. 9. It was only the fourth time in 23 games they failed to pick up a point.
The Islanders also lost goaltender Rick DiPietro at 15:41 of the first after a high-speed collision at the blue-line with Steve Begin as he skated out to prevent a breakaway. He appeared to be hit on the head by a knee or a skate. There was no immediate word on his condition.
Begin was also shaken up but returned for the second.
Mike Dunham took over in goal and made 27 saves.
Latendresse’s second goal of the game and fourth in three matches at 8:58 of the third tied the score 3-3 as his blast from the slot needed to be confirmed by video review.
Higgins got the winning goal when he banged in Andrei Kostitsyn’s pass from behind the net at 11:26. Kostitsyn, with his third assist, set up Plekanec’s goal at 18:34.
Yashin’s bullet from the left faceoff circle left David Aebischer with no chance at 9:35 of the first.
Smyth was hooked on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box and, after crashing Aebischer, was awarded a penalty shot. He beat the Swiss goalie for his 33rd of the season 1:09 into the second.
Montreal tied it when Ryder set up Latendresse at 6:54 and Ryder lifted one in from the side of the net on a power play at 12:42.
Bergeron, who assisted on Yashin’s goal, burst into a crowd in front of Aebischer and scored at 15:05. Since he was acquired from Edmonton on Feb. 18, Bergeron has four goals and eight assists in 10 games.
Smyth has two goals and four assists in six games for New York since he arrived from Edmonton on Feb. 27.
Notes – Sergei Samsonov was not dressed for a second game even though RW Alex Kovalev was a scratch after developing vertigo and C Radek Bonk was out with a flu for Montreal. . . D Mathieu Dandenault played forward for Montreal, while Michael Creighton backed up Aebischer for a second game . . . Bruno Gervais and Shawn Bates were out for the Isles, while Chris Simon is serving his 25-game suspension.