The Crosby and Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins had all the firepower they needed, scoring a half-dozen goals in a 6-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night at the Consol Energy Center in a potential preview of the Eastern Conference finals.
Brandon Sutter opened the scoring 7:24 into the first period with a slick shot from the circle after skating into the Montreal zone with speed. The goal was Sutter’s first goal in 11 games.
Just two minutes later, Pittsburgh extended its lead to 2-0 on a Brenden Morrow shot from the high slot. Pascal Dupuis set up the play with an excellent effort to charge the net and get the puck into that slot area.
Then, with just 21 seconds left into the third, Jarome Iginla buried a Chris Kunitz cross-ice pass on the powerplay to give Pittsburgh a commanding 3-0 leading as the teams entered the first intermission.
Michel Therrien pulled his starter, Peter Budaj, in favor of a slumping Carey Price to start the second, but to no avail.
In that frame, the Canadiens and Penguins traded two goals apiece. Both Morrow and Sutter scored again for their own pair of goals on the game, while Brian Gionta and Alex Galchenyuk accounted for Montreal tallies.
In the third, Gabriel Dumont brought Montreal within two goals, giving the Habs life, only to be answered by Douglas Murray’s first goal in 146 games—the longest such streak in the NHL.
Andrei Markov scored with ten seconds left in the game to make it 6-4 Pittsburgh, a score that did not reflect the way the game was played.
Brenden Morrow notched the Gordie Howe Hat Trick after dropping the gloves with P.K. Subban in the third period to go along with his two goals and assist.
Montreal actually outshot Pittsburgh in this one, 35-29, but the Penguins outhit the Canadiens 33-21 and used that physical play to key victory.
Pittsburgh moves to 14-1 at home in its last 15 games and 33-10 overall with 66 points. Montreal is now 26-12-5 with 57 points.