PITTSBURGH – Penguins defenseman Kris Letang made team history when he passed Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey with a second-period assist to become the highest-scoring blueliner for the franchise.
Though the milestone was nice, they needed a lot more production than that from all sources.
Paul Byron scored a pair of goals — including the eventual game-winner midway through the first period — and chipped in an assist on Joel Armia’s shorthanded tally late in the second frame as the Montreal Canadiens (1-0-1) ended a five-game skid against the Penguins and a four-game drought at PPG Paints Arena with a 5-1 victory.
Penguins defensive pairing Olli Maatta and Jack Johnson were on the ice for both of the Canadiens two first-period goals that helped Montreal open up a 4-0 lead before Riley Sheahan beat Carey Price with a backhand rebound at 17:10 of the second period to avert a shutout.
On the first, Johnson turned the puck over at the Penguins blue line, which led to a quick two-on-one the other way. Tomas Tatar then set up Brendan Gallagher for an easy wrist shot that beat Matt Murray at 11:08.
Byron made it look a little easier as he split Matta and Johnson for a mini breakaway from 45 feet in and beat Murray 1-on-1 for the Canadiens second goal in 4:48. He then set up Armia on the shorthanded goal that put the Habs up 4-0 and put the game out of reach.
Sheahan scored late in the second period, but Montreal answered at 10:08 of the third when Charles Hudon scored on a left-to-right wraparound to beat Murray and give the Canadiens a 5-1 edge.