It was more like buckshot than a laser scope. The Pittsburgh Penguins (10-7-4) had plenty of shots and opportunities but it was they who were the victims of a hot goalie and a few mistakes. The Montreal Canadiens (6-15-2) scored four third-period goals and beat the Penguins 6-3 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins scored two goals in the final three minutes, but it wasn’t enough. Their five-game winning streak ended.
The Penguins victimized the porous Montreal penalty kill early in the third period. Trailing 1-0, Evan Rodrigues (8) roofed a wrister past Jake Allen to tie the game.
The goal culminated a few minutes of intense Penguins pressure, however, the tie game did not last long. Just 32 seconds later, Kasperi Kapanen left Christian Dvorak uncovered in front of the Penguins net. Dvorak (4) easily beat Casey DeSmith from the doorstep.
Montreal added the insurance marker a couple of minutes later when Artturi Lehkonen whacked a bouncing puck past DeSmith. 3-1.
Jeff Carter made life interesting with two-and-a-half minutes left. Carter (5) buried a rebound chance to restore the drama before Josh Anderson scored the empty netter.
Sidney Crosby (2) knocked in a goal with one minute left to give the Penguins another last gasp, but Montreal’s Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli scored empty-netters to conclude the festivities.
Allen was brilliant. The Penguins fired 50 shots but Allen was stellar until the final minutes.
DeSmith was pretty good, too. He faced 11 high-danger scoring chances and 30 shots. He made 27 saves. The Penguins now embark on their annual western Canada road trip beginning Monday in Calgary.
The first period was a mixed bag of visuals and statistics. Montreal may have carried more territory, but the Penguins had more shots (12-7), more scoring chances (15-8), and more high-danger chances (8-5).
The Penguins league-leading penalty killing was tested midway through the first period. Dominik Simon took a high-sticking double minor, but the Penguins allowed only two shots in four minutes.
The second period was not a highlight reel of crisp or great hockey. The teams traded mistakes and scoring chances, including a wild sequence early in the period. Kris Letang turned the puck over at the offensive blue line, which led to a Montreal two-on-one, but the Montreal players collided as they tried to cross on zone entry, which led to a Penguins two-on-one, but Letang’s pass was deflected. Evan Rodrigues and Sidney Crosby each had Grade A rebound chances to close the sequence.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ripped 15 more shots at Canadiens goalie Jake Allen through the period, including a spin-o-rama backhand by Rodrigues, but Montreal got the first bounce.
With four minutes remaining in the second period, Crosby’s pass to the point bounced past Letang and Jonathan Drouin had a clean breakaway from the red line. Drouin (3) sneaked a backhand through DeSmith’s five-hole on Montreal’s 17th shot on goal.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, despite the Penguins’ heavy advantage on superficial stats, the high-danger chances were even, 9-9 after the second period. The Penguins fired 17 shots in the second but got no closer than Dominik Simon’s shot which tricked past Canadiens netminder Jake Allen and settled on the goal line before defenseman Mattias Norlinder removed it from danger.
Evan Rodrigues led all players with 12 shots.
Editor’s note: PHN had the incorrect score in the original story. It was quickly updated to the correct 6-3 final.