When people saw the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens on the schedule, it’s safe to assume that they were not thinking about an outcome that went down Saturday night in Montreal. The two sides did their best to break the scoreboard with the Penguins outlasting Montreal 7-6 in overtime.
The Canadiens drew first blood in the first period when Brandon Prust wristed a shot past Tomas Vokoun to give Montreal the early 1-0 lead. The Penguins would wait until 19:07 of the period to make answer the bell when Brandon Sutter capitalized on a Kris Letang shot that was blocked Alexei Emelin to tie the game and begin a new streak of consecutive games where the Penguins have scored a power play goal. At the intermission, the score was tied, but Pittsburgh held the slight lead in shots 14-12.
As the second period started, Montreal wasted no time in taking back the lead. Brendan Gallagher attempted to stuff the puck past Vokoun, but it somehow squirted out and Max Pacioretty was there to finish off the play to put the Canadiens up 2-1. At this time, Pittsburgh made an attempt to take the game over when they rattled off three straight goals. The first one came from Chris Kunitz off a sneaky behind-the-net pass from Sidney Crosby to tie the again at two. Matt Cooke then jumped in on the action beating Carey Price not once, but twice. Cooke’s first goal came at 8:29 with an exceptional screen by James Neal. At 13:05, Cooke took it upon himself to beat Price for his fifth goal of the year, and to put Pittsburgh up 4-2. With Montreal now down 4-2, captain Brian Gionta put the game in yet another stalemate when he deflected a Francis Bouillion shot past Vokoun. Similar to the Carolina game, the Penguins failed to close out the period as P.K. Subban was able to give the Canadiens all the momentum going into the third period when he beat Vokoun with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. Subban’s goal tied the game at four going into the locker rooms.
Just like the first two period, the third period started with a Montreal goal about five minutes in. This time it was David Desharnais lighting the lamp for his fifth goal of the season, and giving the Canadiens the 5-4 lead. And, just like the second period, Pittsburgh responded with multiple goals in a row. At 8:33, Kunitz netted his second goal of the game and eleventh of the year when he took a pass from Crosby and blasted it past Price. Crosby then followed suit when he gathered a Letang rebound a wristed past an out-of-position Price for his tenth of the season. Now down 6-5, Montreal refused to go away. Thirty seconds after the Crosby goal, Gionta struck again to tie the game at six with a little more than ten minutes remaining. The two high-octane offenses traded chances down stretch, but it would take overtime to settle this one.
The overtime period would not even make it past the one-minute mark before Simon Despres and James Neal led a breakout which led to Despres making an amazing pass to find the trailer, Brandon Sutter. Sutter then, in one motion, deked around a sprawling Pacioretty and sniped a shot through Price to give Pittsburgh the 7-6 victory.
After a 1-2 road trip, the Penguins return home to Pittsburgh for a Monday night faceoff against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m./et.
-First career four-point night for Kris Letang.
-Chris Kunitz now sits tied for third in the race for the Art Ross trophy. Yes, Chris Kunitz.
-Injured center Evgeni Malkin returned to practice Sunday, but there is still no word on when he will return to the lineup.
1. Brandon Sutter (2 goals)
2. Max Pacioretty (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Sidney Crosby (1 goal, 2 assists)