MONTREAL - Maxime Talbot and Kristopher Letang scored shorthanded goals 55 seconds apart in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the listless Montreal Canadiens in the regular season finales for both NHL clubs on Saturday night.
The win, combined with Carolina's loss earlier Saturday, moved Pittsburgh (45-28-9) into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They can take fourth spot if Philadelphia loses Sunday against the New York Rangers.
The Canadiens (41-30-11) finished eighth and will play first-place Boston in the first round of playoffs. Montreal is 24-7 all-time in playoff series against the Bruins.
The score was tied 1-1 when Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik was sent off for cross-checking Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque.
Alex Kovalev made an errant pass to the point that a diving Mathieu Schneider could not keep in, sending Dupuis and Talbot in alone for the go-ahead goal at 9:46.
During the same Pittsburgh penalty kill, Letang skated down the left wing and beat Carey Price with an off-wing blast at 10:41.
Until then, Price kept Montreal in a game in which the home side showed little energy even though they still had a chance to catch the Rangers for seventh place in the conference. The Pens outshot Montreal 41-30 overall.
Evgeny Malkin, who finished the season with a league-leading 113 points, scored his 35th goal, while Roman Hamrlik replied for Montreal in the first period.
The Canadiens looked disinterested from the opening minutes and Malkin took advantage when he slipped the rebound of Sergei Gonchar's point shot under Price only 1:09 into the game.
But despite a 17-6 Pittsburgh shot advantage in the period, Hamrlik tied it at 17:29 when his shot from the left point found its way past Marc-Andre Fleury, although it appeared to have been tipped by Maxim Lapierre.
The Penguins had a shorthanded goal disallowed because Talbot batted Dupuis' rebound in with a clearly high stick.
Shots were a mere 17-7 for Pittsburgh in the second, but Price stood his ground, coming across the crease to snare a blast from close range by Matt Cooke and following a minute later with another gem of a save on Bill Guerin.
The Canadiens had chances in the third, but couldn't beat Fleury.
Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal left the game briefly from treatment in the first period when a puck went off Tomas Plekanec's stick into the Penguins' bench, catching Staal near the left eye.
Notes: Montreal elected to sit out forward Alex Tanguay and scrambled the lines, placing captain Saku Koivu with tough guys Laraque and Greg Stewart. . . . Ryan O'Byrne and Patrice Brisebois also sat out, while Andrei Markov and Sergei Kostitsyn are injured. It was surprising to see Schneider, who is believed to be playing through a shoulder injury, in the line-up. . . . Pittsburgh defenceman Mark Eaton was banged up and didn't play, bringing Philippe Boucher into the line-up. Craig Adams and Miroslav Satan were scratched.