MONTREAL (CP) - Even without Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins made it a tough night for the Montreal Canadiens' young goaltenders.
Ryan Stone and Jeff Taffe scored on the first two shots against Jaroslav Halak and the Penguins went on to a 5-2 NHL pre-season victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday night. Petr Sykora, Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy added goals against Carey Price as the Penguins avenged a 3-2 overtime loss at the Bell Centre in the pre-season openers for both clubs on Monday night.
Both goalies are looking to unseat incumbent starter Cristobal Huet and neither shone on his first try.
"Jaro gave up two gifts and Carey had some bad ones too," said coach Guy Carbonneau, who watched from the press box as assistants Doug Jarvis and Don Lever handled the bench. "I'm kind of happy this happened in their first game.
"There's been a lot of pressure on them for the last month. Now they can relax and think about stopping the puck instead of what people are saying about them."
The Penguins offence clicked even as they rested stars Crosby, Jordan Staal and Mark Recchi.
Bryan Smolinski, in his first game as a Canadien, and Saku Koivu scored for Montreal on Dany Sabourin, who was solid as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 27-23.
"Our concentration wasn't there," added Carbonneau, who was impressed most by forward prospect Thomas Beauregard, while his other rookies struggled. "The passes were very bad.
"I'm disappointed in some of the guys, but it's only the first game."
Price, a fan favourite to make the team, got a long ovation from the 21,273 at the Bell Centre when he replaced Halak at 9:45 of the second period. He allowed three goals on 17 shots.
The world junior championship gold medallist who led Hamilton to an AHL title in the spring could do little as Sykora took a feed from Malkin, held off a stick check from Ryan O'Bryne and lifted the puck in at 11:51 for a 3-1 lead.
It was 3-2 with the Canadiens pressing when Malkin came out of the penalty box, took a pass from Dustin Jeffrey and beat Price to the low stick side on a breakaway at 12:33 of the third. Kennedy jammed a rebound in from the side of the net at 17:00.
Halak had a rough start as Jonathan Filewich's shot went off the back boards onto Stone's stick for goal 32 seconds into the game. Taffe scored on a bad-angled shot inside the near post at 2:41.
Smolinski found the puck in a scramble and put it past Dany Sabourin on a power play 5:57 into the second frame.
With Guillaume Latendresse off for his second boarding call of the game, Koivu stole the puck from Ben Lovejoy and scored short-handed at 8:57 of the third.
The Canadiens' captain had to duck to avoid an elbow from Pens defenceman Brooks Orpik, who connected instead with teammate Sykora. The sniper was dripping blood from the nose as he rushed to the training room for treatment.
Coach Michel Therrien said Sykora was "fine."
The Penguins had another scare when defenceman Ryan Whitney was slammed face-first into the boards in the second period by Latendresse, who drew a boarding call and another five minutes for fighting Kennedy. Whitney shook it off at the bench.
Moments earlier, Latendresse had been flattened by an open-ice hit by Orpik, Whitney's defence partner.
It made for a second straight game with more than usual intensity for exhibition games.
Whitney was plus-4 for the game, while Orpik and Malkin were each plus-3.
"It was good to see the way Crosby and Malkin played in these two games," said Therrien. "It's good to see your two best young players and how they competed."
Pittsburgh's highly touted rookie Angelo Esposito was more active in his second game, rushing the puck to create chances, but failed to register a point.
"It was a tough situation for him - his first two NHL games here at the Bell Centre," Therrien said of the Montreal native. "You could see he was trying to do too much.
"But we know he can be an NHL player."