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Pettersson OT Goal Lifts Penguins Past Montreal, 3-2



This was a game the Pittsburgh Penguins simply could not afford to lose.

They were playing at home. Against one of the few teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings. With a chance to pull out of a three-game skid and take some semblance of momentum into the NHL’s all-star break.

Nonetheless, they trailed Montreal, 2-1, with less than 10 minutes left in regulation before rallying for a 3-2 overtime victory at PPG Paints Arena, as Marcus Pettersson scored the game-winner from inside the right circle at 2:43 of the extra period.

It was just Pettersson’s second goal of the season. Rickard Rakell and Evgeni Malkin got the assists on the goal, Pettersson’s first career game-winner.

The victory raised the Penguins’ record to 22-17-7, although they remain on the fringe of the Eastern playoff race.

The Canadiens played without right winger Brendan Gallagher, who is serving a five-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech Thursday.

His absence was noteworthy, given that Gallagher leads members of the 2023-24 Canadiens in career goals (6) and points (15) against the Penguins.

The start of the game was delayed a bit by a ceremony honoring Penguins center Lars Eller, who appeared in his 1,000th NHL game.

The Penguins got the first power play of the evening when Montreal defenseman Jordan Harris was penalized for tripping Jeff Carter at 9:19 of the opening period.

Coach Mike Sullivan opted to stick with the reconfigured unit he deployed on the Penguins’ eighth and final man-advantage in their 3-2 shootout loss to Florida 24 hours earlier.

The No. 1 unit featured Kris Letang, Valtteri Puustinen, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, while the second group had Erik Karlsson, Rakell, Malkin, Eller and Carter.

The Penguins generated two shots on Montreal goalie Jake Allen during those two minutes, but were unable to score.

And while the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t get a goal out of that chance, neither did it disrupt the momentum they had built, the way it has numerous times this season.

Nonetheless, the Canadiens began to regain their equilibrium as the period progressed, and Kaiden Guhle gave them a 1-0 lead when he threw a shot past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry from the bottom of the right circle at 15:53.

The goal was made possible by former Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson, who fed a pass to Guhle from above the left dot. Guhle was unchecked because Marcus Pettersson had left him, apparently intending to prevent Matheson from going to the net, even though Letang already was out there.

The Penguins finished the period with a 15-10 advantage in shots, which was a reasonable reflection of how those 20 minutes played out, but they were unable to counter the Guhle goal.

Although Montreal carried the play through the early minutes of the second period, Eller pulled the Penguins even at 4:05, as he rifled a Puustinen rebound past Allen for his ninth of the season. Rakell, who had failed to record a point in five of the previous six games, got the second assist.

Letang was assessed an interference minor at 11:23, and the Canadiens got a go-ahead goal exactly one minute later.

Juraj Slafkovsky was credited with it after his pass across the slot hit Penguins defenseman Ryan Graves and caromed into the net. It was the third goal the Penguins allowed in their past four shorthanded situations.

The Penguins’ power play got its second chance when Guhle was sent off for tripping Rakell at 17:44, but again failed to capitalize, despite creating some serious, steady pressure.

The Penguins were able to pull even again at 10:03 of the third, when Guentzel set up by the left post and steered in a backhand pass from Crosby, who was in the right circle. Pettersson got the second assist on the goal, Guentzel’s 22nd.


The Pittsburgh Penguins will be off for the next week. Their next practice is scheduled for Feb. 4.