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Unbeaten Canadiens defeat winless Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Montreal Canadiens achieved something Tuesday they hadn't accomplished in 38 years.

With a 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center, the Canadiens matched a team record by winning their first four games of the season, last done in 1977.

Pittsburgh (0-3-0) has lost its first three games for the first time since 2005-06, when it lost its first nine (0-5-4) in Sidney Crosby's first NHL season.

Tomas Fleischmann scored 5:20 into the third period to give the Canadiens a one-goal lead for the third time. After David Desharnais stripped Pittsburgh forward Sergei Plotnikov of the puck along Montreal's blue line, he carried the puck down the wall and below the goal line before centering a pass to Fleischmann at the crease. Fleischmann put a wrist shot between goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the left post for a 3-2 lead.

"I'm glad that he scored a big one and gave us the winning goal," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "When you're looking down the road trip, we got contributions from every line and defenseman, and got some key saves from the goalies. So it's a good team effort all the way around."

Montreal goalie Carey Price made 31 saves, including a few impressive stops in the final minutes, including one on a Crosby snap shot with 2:17 remaining.

"It's just a pass across and you just do what goalies do," Price said. "I just kicked out a limb and found a way to stop it. I got pretty lucky on it. I didn't see it. It was just one of those ones that hit you."

Pittsburgh's three goals are the fewest it's scored in the first three games of a season since 2003-04, when it had four goals in the first three games.

"Every game has been so different, it really has been," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "Players have been in and out in certain games, and I thought tonight for, I'd say, 80 percent of the game, I liked the contribution from our best players. There were some moments there were I thought we let our guard down, but in the second period, we had a lot of momentum."

Montreal took a 1-0 lead in a dominant first period but failed to hold two leads during the second when the Penguins ignited to enter the third tied 2-2.

Forward Beau Bennett tied the game 1-1 when he sent a wrist shot past a diving Nathan Beaulieu, through defenseman Tom Gilbert and past Price 5:31 into the second. Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty answered with his second goal of the game, on a power play 2:15 later, to re-establish the one-goal lead.

Montreal's power play had failed to score on 12 of 13 chances in its previous two games.

"I talked earlier about needing everybody to touch the puck [on the power play] and getting guys moving," Pacioretty said. "And I think, before I scored there, we had all five guys touch the puck and we were moving it quickly and were moving to get open for each other. And at the end of the day, it's a pretty simple shot with a great screen in front by [Brendan Gallagher], but we created that space by everyone moving the puck and moving themselves as well."

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang causally flipped a shot over Price's glove with 9:51 left in the second to tie it 2-2.

Pacioretty scored on Montreal's second shot on the game, 5:46 into the first period. Gallagher carried the puck below the goal line before circling up the near wall and passing to Pacioretty between the circles, where he one-timed a shot through traffic.

Pacioretty leads Montreal with six points and four goals.

Crosby was credited with his first shot of the season with 4:13 remaining in the first period, 135:47 into Pittsburgh's season. Crosby had gone consecutive games without a shot on goal for the first time since Dec. 14 and 15, 2010.

"I think certain parts [of the game were positive]," Crosby said. "Definitely the second, I think we did a really good job of generating chances. We had a lot of in-zone time and momentum there. Obviously, third period they found another level. I thought that we didn't quite get to the level we were in the second, but still had our fair share of chances.

"Nobody likes to lose, so I think it's OK to be upset over that, but we definitely have to find ways to be better."

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