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Sergei Gonchar's first of the year gives Dan Bylsma his first NHL win

NHL.com @NHL

PITTSBURGH - Sergei Gonchar's first goal gave Dan Bylsma his first win as an NHL coach.

Gonchar, playing only his third game after missing most of the season because of a shoulder injury, scored on a slap shot after Pittsburgh quickly squandered a two-goal lead in the third period as the Penguins beat slumping Montreal 5-4 Thursday night.

The Penguins had lost three of four before Ruslan Fedotenko fed Gonchar in the high slot, then went down low to screen goalie Carey Price in front to create the fifth goal in the first 7:18 of the third period. Evgeni Malkin and Max Talbot scored in the period's opening three minutes for Pittsburgh, but Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec scored less than four minutes apart to tie it at four.

Plekanec scored his 13th and 14 goals and added an assist and Kostitsyn had two assists to go with his 22nd goal, but the Canadiens - who have fallen from third in the Eastern Conference to sixth in a month - lost their second in two nights and 12th in 15 games.

After Gonchar scored his first goal since April 2, the Penguins finally protected a lead after failing to hold advantages of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2 - exactly the kind of problems that led to former coach Michel Therrien's firing and Bylsma's hiring on Sunday night.

Pittsburgh has repeatedly given up the lead in the third period this season, going 19-7-6 when leading or tied after two periods, with seven losses in 21 games when they were ahead going into the period.

Bylsma, previously the coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), promised a more aggressive team in both zones and a faster pace and the Penguins provided it, if only in the third period.

Before that, Petr Sykora scored his 22nd goal for Pittsburgh by jumping on a rebound of Chris Minard's shot before Plekanec answered four minutes later, a goal created by Matt Cooke's giveaway.

Miroslav Satan's first goal in eight games and only his second in 14 games put Pittsburgh up 2-1 as he redirected Ryan Whitney's slap shot, but a brief two-man advantage led to 39-year-old Mathieu Schneider's first goal since being traded back to the Canadiens by Atlanta for two draft picks Monday.

Schneider's slap shot eluded goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with seven seconds left in a 21-second two-man advantage created by penalties on Sykora and Talbot. The goal was Montreal's fourth on the power play in two nights.

Notes: Malkin's goal and assist boosted his NHL-leading total to 84 points. ... The Canadiens were again without all-star forward Alex Kovalev, who was ordered by general manager Bob Gainey to skip a two-game road that began with a 4-3 shootout loss in Washington on Wednesday night. Kovalev's situation will be re-evaluated Friday, before the Canadiens play Ottawa on Saturday night. ... Ryan Whitney got his 150th career point by assisting on Satan's goal. ... Schneider's goal was his fifth of the season. ... Price is 2-8-1 since returning from an unspecified injury. He was 7-0-2 immediately before the injury.

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