Evan Rodrigues and Sidney Crosby piled on the points, and the Pittsburgh Penguins (15-8-5) won their fifth game in a row and 10th win in 13 games. Rodrigues scored three points, including two assists, and Crosby had three assists (later updated to two) as the Penguins skated away from the hapless Montreal Canadiens, 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.
Rodrigues tied a career-high with his ninth goal, and Crosby reached elite company with his 400th career multi-point game.
The Penguins earned some breathing room just 28 seconds into the third period. With a 3-2 lead, the heroes of the night, Rodrigues and Crosby, set up Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (1), whose knuckling slapshot from the blue line fluttered through a screen and past Montreal goalie Jake Allen. The marker gave the Penguins a two-goal lead and collapsed the struggling Canadiens, who, until that point, gave the Penguins a stiff challenge.
Midway through the period, the Penguins even got offense from unlikely sources. Brian Boyle (3) outmuscled Canadiens center Ryan Poehling in the slot and promptly ripped a top-shelf wrister past Allen for a 5-2 lead. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel earned his second point this season with an assist.
Montreal hasn’t made things easy on the Penguins this season.
The Penguins took the 6-3 beating by the Canadiens on Nov. 27 to heart. Allen made 47 saves in that game. The team was 9-2-1 since and solidified their wild-card playoff position. Sidney Crosby’s six-game point streak was snapped on Saturday in the Penguins 1-0 win (empty nets continue to be his kryptonite), but he began a new streak with a pair of assists on Tuesday.
The Penguins played hacky-sack for a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. After several Montreal Grade A chances and a clanged post by each team, going to the net paid off for Kasperi Kapanen. Canadiens goalie Jake Allen punted a save into the slot, and Evan Rodrigues kicked the puck out of mid-air back towards the net. Kapanen (7) used the shaft of his stick to cross-check the puck over Allen.
The first period was almost even, though Montreal had a couple or more high-danger scoring chances. Nick Suzuki and Mike Hoffman hit posts, and Penguins winger Jason Zucker also took the paint off the post on a two-on-one.
The Pittsburgh Penguins nearly broke open the game in the second period and reached several milestones in the process. However, they escaped with only a one-goal lead.
After a couple of glorious chances in the opening minutes of the second period, Rodrigues (9) buried a power-play goal. From the left-wing circle, Rodrigues one-timed a soft pass from Letang to the top corner past Allen. 2-0.
However, Montreal was pesky and never let the Penguins pull away. After two periods, the Penguins had a 26-15 shots lead but just a one-goal lead.
Just 14 seconds later, Chad Ruhwedel and Mike Matheson played hot potato with the puck. Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin (5) became the beneficiary and was alone in front with time to deke Jarry. 2-1.
Midway through the period, the Penguins appeared to take control as Crosby and Rodrigues earned their second assists. Defenseman Mike Matheson scored just the fifth goal this season by a Penguins defenseman. Kasperi Kapanen engaged in the crease to create a screen, and Matheson (2) picked the corner from 30 feet.
Tristan Jarry made a handful of high-quality saves in the first period. He stopped 28 of 30 shots. Allen was pretty good, but stopped 26 of 31.
Pittsburgh Penguins milestones:
*With an assist, Kris Letang became the seventh active defenseman and 43rd ever to record 600 points.
*Sidney Crosby had two assists and became the 14th player ever to reach 400 multi-point games.
*Evan Rodrigues tied his career-high with his ninth goal. He last had nine NHL goals in 2018-19 when he played 74 games.
*The Penguins penalty kill nullified its 32nd straight power play. The all-time record is 53, set by the 1999-2000 Washington Capitals. The Penguins PK is approaching a 93% kill rate.