PITTSBURGH — Jake Allen turned in his best performance of the season as he made 47 saves to lead the Canadiens to a 6-3 victory over the Penguins on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.
The win avenged the Penguins’ 6-0 rout of the Canadiens at the Bell Centre nine days earlier.
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The third period started with a bang as the Penguins pulled even at 1-1 on a power-play goal. Sidney Crosby set up Evan Rodrigues, who beat Allen from the high slot at 2:33, 12 seconds after Artturi Lehkonen was sent off for tripping.
But Montreal regained the lead on the next shift when Christian Dvorak beat Casey DeSmith from the slot at 3:05.
The Penguins did the Canadiens a favour by playing DeSmith, who was making only his fourth start, and came into the game with some of the worst numbers in the NHL. But Montreal was slow in putting pressure on him until Lehkonen upped the lead to 3-1 when he batted in a bouncing puck during a goalmouth scramble at 6:16.
Jonathan Drouin scored the first goal of the game at 15:34 of the second period when he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and took off on a breakaway. He waited until DeSmith committed himself and slipped the puck between the goalie’s pads. While the goal was unassisted, a solid check by Jeff Petry set the play in motion.
The Penguins came close to getting that one back a minute later when Dominik Simon’s shot from the high shot trickled through Allen’s pads, but rookie defenceman Mattias Norlinder was backing up the goaltender and stopped the puck before it crossed the goal line.
Simon was guilty of drawing blood when he hit Brendan Gallagher with a high stick early in the first period. That gave the Canadiens a four-minute advantage for the second consecutive game, but the power play was only marginally better than it was in Buffalo. The Canadiens had two relatively harmless shots on goal, but it was an improvement because they didn’t give up a short-handed goal as they did against the Sabres.
The Penguins outshot the Canadiens 14-8 in the first period, but Allen was solid and the Canadiens had two good scoring chances late in the period. DeSmith stopped Anderson from the top of the crease and Dvorak had a shot hit a post.
There was a wild finish with five goals in three final 2:37. Jeff Carter and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins, while the Canadiens scored three empty-net goals with two by Josh Anderson and the third by Tyler Toffoli.
The Canadiens went 0-for-4 on the power play, which shouldn’t be a surprise because the Penguins have the best penalty-killing record in the NHL. They haven’t allowed a power-play goal in their past seven games, killing 19 penalties in that span. The Penguins were 1-for-3 on the power play.
Dominique Ducharme continues to fiddle with his lineup and he went back to the standard six defencemen and 12 forwards alignment. Chris Wideman was the odd man on defence despite the fact he’s the highest scoring defenceman on the team.
Michael Pezzetta, who was a healthy scratch Friday in Buffalo, rejoined Ryan Poehling and Joel Armia on the fourth line.
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