Penguins Pound Canadiens – Crosby & Guentzel With 4 Points

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.

Montreal Canadiens Carey Price
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price looks back after being scored on. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

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