Recaps: Game 22 – Penguins vs. Canadiens

Brandon Sutter celebrates his game winning overtime goal Saturday night in Montreal. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

It was a hockey night in Canada as the Penguins rounded out the last of their three game road swing in the city of Montreal. Riding a two-game losing streak, the Pens were looking to rebound with at least one road win against the Canadiens. Montreal, for their part, playing their best of hockey of the season, were looking for a second consecutive win. Behind the benches, Dan Bylsma and Michel Therrien would meet for the first time since Therrien’s firing by the Penguins in 2009 and Bylsma’s subsequent hiring.

With just six minutes off the clock, Montreal would strike first, the goal courtesy of Brandon Prust. Prust found a rebound before Brooks Orpik could pick it up and buried it from the point to give the Habs the early lead. Montreal would hold the lead until the final two minutes of the frame, when Tomas Plekanec was sent to the box for a hold against Sidney Crosby. This opened up an opportunity for a power-play goal by Brandon Sutter. Sutter would attempt to send a pass to Kris Letang but the shot would deflect off a d-man and back to Sutter who was able to beat a sliding Carey Price to tie the game at a goal apiece. Pittsburgh was down a man heading into the third as Pascal Dupuis was whistled for a hold, ensuring Montreal started the second with the man advantage for a minute and thirty seconds.

Simon Despres, Brandon Sutter and Beau Bennett celebrate a goal against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night. (Courtesy of Getty Images.)

It took Montreal four minutes to reclaim the lead, Max Pacioretty beating Tomas Vokoun with a backhand with 15:46 left to go in the middle frame. Three minutes later, Chris Kunitz responded with a goal of his own to tie the game, once again. Thirty seconds later, Matt Cooke made it three for Pittsburgh when his blast from the boards found its way through a screen and past Price. Cook wasn’t done, and his second of the night – goal number four for the Penguins – would result from a snap from the circle that found its way into the net. With 15:33 off the clock, Tyler Kennedy was forced to after being whistled for a hold. Montreal would push hard and Tomas Vokoun would flip and flop and make a desperate save on Pacioretty to maintain the Penguins lead. That Habs, however, weren’t finished, and their third came just after the penalty expired, cutting Pittsburgh’s lead in half. Brian Gionta had the tip in and Montreal built off the momentum and would dominate the final minutes of play in the second. PK Subban’s goal with 0.7 seconds left on the clocked tied it up again, bringing the goal scoring total for the second twenty to six. Montreal held the advantage in shots 15 to 12.

Tanner Glass and Colby Armstrong each earned a penalty two minutes into the final frame, resulting in some four-on-four hockey. Neither team would capitalize but it would eventually be David Desharnais returning the lead to Montreal, picking up his own rebound and curling it around Vokoun. Not to be outdone, Kunitz scored his second of the night to tie the game once again, picking up a pass from Crosby from behind the net and banking it in from above the circle.  Crosby followed with his own goal – goal number six for the Penguins – with a snap shot past Fleury. Crosby’s goal was followed by another from Gionta, tying the game at six apiece.  And, there it would stay.

Sixty minutes just wasn’t enough and after a brief break, the teams were headed into overtime. The five minute, sudden-death overtime period lasted all of fifty-two seconds before Brandon Sutter notched his second of the night, giving the Penguins a much needed to points and ensuring they notched at least one road win.

Kris Letang led all skaters with 26:43 of ice time followed by Sidney Crosby with 23:23. Brandon Sutter had seven shots on goal while Crosby had five. Letang recorded a four point night with four assists while Chris Kunitz, with two goals and an assist, and Crosby with a goal and two assists, each added three points to their season tally. Crosby now sits first in the league in terms of points and assists while the Penguins continue to occupy the second spot in the Eastern Conference and the first spot in the Atlantic Division.

The Penguins continue to be without Evgeni Malkin who was sidelined a week ago with a concussion after colliding with the boards. Defenceman Paul Martin was also out of the lineup, the result of a lower body injury. The Penguins did, however, welcome back a familiar face in the form of Mark Eaton who suited up with the Penguins for the first time since 2010 after being signed earlier this week. Eaton had 19:04 of ice time in his first game back.

The Penguins will return to Pittsburgh where they will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time this season on Monday. Game time is 7:30 pm.