PITTSBURGH - Carey Price needed only one game to evoke memories of Patrick Roy.
Exactly 22 years after Roy made his much-hyped NHL debut for the Montreal Canadiens in Pittsburgh, Price did the same and came out with a win, too. Price made 26 saves as the Canadiens beat Pittsburgh 3-2. Matching the rest of Roy's Hall of Fame career will certainly be tougher.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," said the 20-year-old Price. "It's pretty exciting."
Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov each had a goal and an assist for Montreal. Alex Kovalev also scored.
Mark Recchi had two assists and Ryan Whitney and Maxime Talbot scored for Pittsburgh.
"The kid played pretty well, obviously made some big saves," Whitney said. "He won the game for them."
Price's highly-anticipated NHL debut came on the heels of very successful junior and minor league campaigns. Price earned national fame by leading Canada to the World Junior Championship last season, earning MVP honours in the process. The former No. 5 overall pick of the Canadiens also was goaltender of the year in major junior hockey last season and then led Hamilton to the American Hockey League championship last spring.
Price said he was more relaxed for Wednesday's game than he had been at the World Junior tournament or in the AHL Calder Cup finals.
"If you look at the way he played in the past, like in the World Juniors, he played really well and in Hamilton... when it was time to close a series, he was there and played well," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "And tonight was one of those games."
Canadiens Hall of Fame goalies Ken Dryden and Roy also made their NHL debuts against the Penguins - Roy's first game was a 5-3 victory on Oct. 10, 1985.
"I read it in the game notes," said Price, as cool in the post-game meeting with the media as he was between the pipes. "It's kind of a coincidence. It's kind of weird that's how that worked out."
Price, who was taken four spots behind Penguins star Sidney Crosby at the 2005 draft, stopped the reigning NHL scoring champion at least twice during a flurry in front of his net and made a save on Erik Christensen from close range early in the second for two of his best stops.
"I thought he really looked confident," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "And if he was nervous he didn't show it at all. We took some penalties in the first period so he had to get into the game right away, and he made some key saves, kept us in the game."
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury - himself a No. 1 overall pick in 2003 - was just as solid as Price early, including stoning Christopher Higgins from the slot four minutes into the second.
The first goal Price allowed came seven minutes into the second period, and it wasn't a soft one. Whitney picked up a loose puck in front of the net while on the power play. Crosby had gone right at Price, skating from behind the goal-line to the left of Price. Recchi tried to jam the puck home, and Crosby was pushed by Montreal defenceman Roman Hamrlik into Price, who fell over, leaving an open net for Whitney.
"I know that Crosby got pushed but he never made an effort to go away from the blue paint," Carbonneau said. "They really interfered with our goalie."
Plekanec tied the game at 1 when he fired a slap shot past Fleury's glove hand while on the power play with 6:53 left the second.
It was Plekanec's first goal of the season, and ex-Penguin Kovalev earned his first less than four minutes later when his wrist shot got past Fleury to make it 2-1 Montreal.
"We kind of let up there for 10 minutes in the second," Talbot said. "And that killed our momentum and killed us at the end."
Markov scored what would ultimately be the game-winner 2:51 into the third period when he fired an open wrist shot past Fleury on a rebound. But the Penguins got that goal back 57 seconds later when Talbot converted off a pretty no-look backhand pass from Evgeni Malkin, who was behind the net.
Price stopped Crosby and Gary Roberts on consecutive opportunities with about three minutes to play and withheld a strong Penguins' charge with their goalie pulled in the final minute to preserve the victory.
Notes: Thursday is the 40th anniversary of the first game in Penguins franchise history. Montreal defeated Pittsburgh 3-1 on Oct. 11, 1967. The Penguins aired a small video tribute to the occasion. ... Montreal C Kyle Chipchura also made his NHL debut. ... Kovalev, Markov and Koivu each have at least one point in each game this season. ... Malkin has a three-game assist streak. ... Penguins D Darryl Sydor played his 1,100th NHL game.