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game recap

Penguins defeat Canadiens, gain in Metropolitan Division

Crosby gets 700th NHL assist; Montreal eliminated from playoff contention

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Derick Brassard and Jake Guentzel scored third-period goals to help the Pittsburgh Penguins pull within two points of first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday.

Brassard gave Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead with a power-play goal at 2:38. Guentzel set up Brassard for a one-timer he sent past goalie Carey Price's glove for his second goal in 11 games with the Penguins.

"Like I said, maybe after the first or second game I played [with Pittsburgh], it's going to take me a little while," Brassard said. "I'm still maybe not there yet, but I'm just trying to play, play hard and play on the right side of the puck. Trying to make plays. As a team, we've been showing some good flashes, but we're not playing a perfect game out there."

 

[WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Penguins highlights]

 

Guentzel, who had three points (one goal, two assists), shot over Price's left shoulder to make it 5-3 at 18:27. Sidney Crosby had an assist for his 700th in the NHL. He is the third active player to reach that mark, behind Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks (1,030) and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks (824).

Video: MTL@PHI: Crosby gets 700th assist on Guentzel's goal

Pittsburgh (42-27-5), which rebounded from a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, is second in the division behind the Washington Capitals and two points ahead of the third-place Columbus Blue Jackets.

After the Canadiens erased a 2-0 Penguins lead to go ahead 3-2, Crosby tied it 3-3 by juggling the puck with his stick blade before backhanding a shot out of midair past Price at 15:02 of the second period.

"I was just trying to follow the bouncing puck," Crosby said. "It worked out. It's nice to see one go in. … I don't know if you work on that specifically, but I think you just try to work on getting pucks in and around the net and playing pucks out. There are always loose pucks around the net.

"You try to finish plays out in practice. Sometimes it works where you can do it in a game. Sometimes it doesn't."

Price made 34 saves for Montreal (26-36-12), which was eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention with a fourth straight loss, in his return from a concussion that had him out since Feb. 20.

Video: MTL@PIT: Price shuts his pads on Hornqvist's break

"I felt pretty good," Price said. "Pretty good team to go against and I thought we played a pretty good game tonight. … They got a lot of weapons on the power play and they seem to be able to find the holes. That's what a good power play does."

The Penguins were 2-for-3 on the power play.

"There's no doubt you want to stay out of the penalty box," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "At the same time, we have to do a better job. That's been our issue for most of the year. We have chances to clear the puck and we don't. When you're against the power play, it ends up in the back of your net."

Casey DeSmith made 27 saves for Pittsburgh.

Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead in the first period.

After Price made the save on a shot by Carl Hagelin, Malkin dove at the rebound before using one hand on his stick to knock the puck past Price to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead with his 41st goal at 9:53. It was upheld after the Canadiens challenged for goaltender interference.

Video: MTL@PIT: Malkin drives the net, scores with his leg

Hornqvist made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 17:31 before Jonathan Drouin beat DeSmith with a wrist shot to cut the lead to 2-1 with 30 seconds left in the first.

Nikita Scherbak tied it 2-2 with a backhand shot on a shorthanded breakaway at 8:19 of the second period.

Jacob de la Rose put the Canadiens ahead 3-2 after Nicolas Deslauriers' shot popped into the air off DeSmith's shoulder. De la Rose followed the rebound and tapped it under DeSmith's glove at 14:24.

 

Goal of the game

Brassard's goal at 2:38 of the third period.

Video: MTL@PIT: Brassard one-times a PPG from the slot

 

Save of the game

DeSmith stopping Brendan Gallagher's penalty shot at 3:14 of the second period.

Video: MTL@PIT: DeSmith gloves Gallagher's penalty shot

 

Highlight of the game

Crosby's goal at 15:02 of the second period.

Video: MTL@PIT: Crosby juggles puck, bats in amazing goal

 

They said it

"There's no safe lead in this game anymore, in today's game. That's what I think. … I thought the first period was really good. The second period, there were some fluky goals. It seemed that way." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan

 

"You come to the rink every day with the expectation that you're going to win a hockey game and too many times I think we've left disappointed. It's been tough." -- Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher

 

Need to know

Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk played after being re-evaluated for an injured hand. He had two shots in 18:46. … Price stopped Brassard on a penalty shot 1:19 into the game. ... The Penguins are the only NHL team this season to have three players with at least 50 assists. Crosby leads Pittsburgh with 55, and Phil Kessel and Malkin have 53 and 50, respectively. The last time the Penguins did that was in 2006-07, when Crosby had 84, Sergei Gonchar had 54, and Malkin had 52. 

 

What's next

Canadiens: At the Buffalo Sabres on Friday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV)

Penguins: Host the New Jersey Devils on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, MSG+, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Crosby tallies 700th assist in Penguins' 5-3 win

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