returned to the Montreal Canadiens
' lineup after missing two games with a leg injury and promptly made up for lost time.
Kostitsyn, who hadn't scored a goal in three weeks, registered his first NHL hat trick and accounted for all of Montreal's offense Saturday night in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins
at Mellon Arena.
His third goal, at 2:21 into the third period, snapped a tie and gave the Canadiens the victory, making them 3-0-1 in their past four games. Carey Price
stopped 32 shots, including all 17 he faced over the final 20 minutes.
"When you have an offense like the Penguins have, and especially in the third period when we gave them three power plays, it's never easy," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau
said. "I think Carey's always been known as a guy who can finish. I think tonight he was ready."
The winning goal was unassisted, as Kostitsyn capitalized on a turnover at center ice, skated over the blue line and ripped a shot between the legs of Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik
and past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
"We want (Kostitsyn) to shoot," Carbonneau said. "I think he has the best shot on our club. He should be ready to shoot from everywhere, and tonight that's all he did. He got good shots right on the net and turned them into goals."
and Pascal Dupuis
each had a goal and an assist, but the Penguins continued a nine-game stretch in which they've alternated losses and wins. They're also in a scoring slump, having managed only three goals in their last three games.
Kostitsyn staked the Canadiens to a 2-1 lead after the opening period by scoring both early and late. It took just 1:15 for him to get the game's first goal, as Josh Gorges
took a shot that missed the net but came hard off the end boards to Tomas Plekanec
. He got the puck to Kostitsyn for a shot that beat Fleury, who was coming off a 37-save shutout against New Jersey on Friday.
Dupuis tied the score with 5:16 left, with Ryan Whitney
drawing the primary assist for his first point in three games since returning after offseason foot surgery. But Kostitsyn restored the Habs' advantage 1.6 seconds before intermission, one-timing Plekanec's feed from behind the net.
"I just went to the net and (Plekanec) made me two good passes and I scored," Kostitsyn said.
Crosby's 15th of the season was the lone goal of the second and sent the teams into the final period even. The Penguins' captain attempted a wraparound against Price and the puck banked in off the goalie at 5:51.
"I know we lost, but we had a pretty good effort," Crosby said. "We didn't give them much. We had a couple mistakes on the first two goals and the third goal was a pretty good shot. ... They really didn't get anything after that. We had a lot of chances to tie it up and even take the lead. Our effort was there."
Price owned the third period, however, making Kostitsyn's third of the game and ninth of the season stand up. After blanking the Devils 1-0 despite being outshot 37-18, Pittsburgh enjoyed a 34-19 advantage over Montreal — but once again a stellar display of goaltending stole the show.
"I felt pretty good. I thought our guys did a pretty good job of keeping everything to the outside, so that kind of made my job a little bit easier," Price said.
The Penguins took the game's first penalty but stayed out of the box after that and ended up with five straight power-play opportunities, including three in the third period.
"I liked our effort tonight and thought we deserved better," Penguins coach Michel Therrien
said. "There are going to be nights when the result is not on your side. Tonight was one of those nights. Carey Price
was outstanding and stole the game."
Material from wire services and national broadcast media was used in this report.