MONTREAL — Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had four-point performances as the Pittsburgh Penguins earned a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night as both teams continue to battle for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Guentzel scored two goals and had two assists while Crosby scored and added three assists for the Penguins (34-22-9). Evgeni Malkin and Jared McCann, into the empty net, also scored for Pittsburgh while goalie Matt Murray stopped 36-of-37 shots.
Both the Penguins and Canadiens now have 77 points in the standings. Pittsburgh is in the first wild-card spot while Montreal dropped down into the second.
Brendan Gallagher scored the only goal for the Canadiens (35-24-7). Carey Price gave up four goals on 24 shots. He is still one victory away from tying Jacques Plante’s franchise record with 314.
It was the second of back-to-back games for both teams. Pittsburgh lost 4-3 in overtime in Buffalo on Friday while Montreal defeated the New York Rangers 4-2.
The Canadiens were hardly outclassed on Saturday night, outshooting the Pens 37-25, but the score line certainly didn’t reflect that.
Pittsburgh jumped to an early 3-0 lead on its first four shots of the game.
They needed just 21 seconds to beat Price after a bad giveaway by Jordie Benn in his own zone led to Crosby’s deflected goal.
The visitors doubled their lead on the power play when Malkin’s slapshot changed course on a Joel Armia deflection at 4:38.
Pittsburgh finished 1 for 3 with the man advantage.
Guentzel went five-hole on Price at 8:51 right after a face-off win by Crosby for his first goal of the night and 30th of the season — his first time reaching the 30-goal plateau.
The Pens went the next 11:09 of the first period without firing a shot on net but still led 3-0 at intermission.
Guentzel netted his second of the game 6:24 into the second period with a precise wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
Pittsburgh’s leading scorer nearly completed his hat trick late while on a breakaway in the second but Price made a nice glove save.
The Canadiens scored their only goal when Gallagher beat Murray for his team-leading 29th of the season with a shot from inside the left face-off circle. Gallagher’s career high is 31 goals, set last year.
McCann added the empty-netter with 1:24 left in the game.
Crosby had a hand in four of his team’s goals. The Pens captain now has 10 points on his current four-game scoring streak. Crosby also moved into second place on Pittsburgh’s all-time scoring list with his 440th career tally.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press