Talk about a roller coaster year. The Penguins responded to a six-game losing streak with a winning streak that has reached five games following a 5-4 shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center.
The win against the Habs was another showing of the team’s resiliency and determination, as they had to overcome two two-goal deficits (3-1; 4-2) to pull out the win.
“It was a tough game tonight, we started slow,” center Evgeni Malkin
said. “We talked in the locker room after the second (period). We said we needed to work for 20 minutes and win this game because we’re at home and need two points.”
Malkin keyed the comeback. With less than three minutes in regulation with Pittsburgh trailing 4-3, Malkin blasted a nasty one-timer from above the near circles that bulleted past goaltender Peter Budaj far side, top corner to even the score.
Malkin then scored in the shootout and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
stopped all three shooters he faced to preserve the fifth straight victory for Pittsburgh.
“When the team wins the last five games we feel great,” Malkin said. “We stayed positive and it helps to win.”
Center Dustin Jeffrey
finally recorded his first point of the season – and second – and third. Jeffrey scored two goals and added an assist for his first career three-point game en route to being the game’s No. 1 star.
More on Jeffrey’s starific night here.
The Pens and Canadiens met for the first time since Nov. 26 in Montreal. In that contest Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang
suffered a concussion and broken nose due to a hit in the offensive zone from Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.
Letang would miss 21 games following the hit, returning to the lineup Thursday night in New York. Pacioretty was given a three-game suspension by the NHL for the hit.
Just three minutes into the first period Pacioretty went after Pens forward Chris Kunitz
. The two players dropped the gloves and tangled.
Letang returned to the Penguins lineup Thursday night in New York and had an instant impact – recording an assist, plus-2 rating and three shots in a team-high 24:17 minutes of ice time.
Letang built on that awesome performance Friday night against his hometown Montreal Canadiens.
Letang had the puck high in the offensive zone in the first period. He skated around two Habs blueliners and took the puck toward the goal line. Letang faked as if he was going to take the puck behind the net, but threw a deceptive backhander on net that Budaj couldn’t stop.
“It was a broken play and I was just trying to get it in front,” Letang said. “We had two guys going to the net. It ended up being a lucky bounce.”
Late in the first period with the Penguins on a power play, Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec carried the puck in on goal for a shorthanded breakaway. Letang flashed ludicrous speed on his skates to catch up to Plekanec and made a diving swat to knock the puck off the Habs forward's stick.
Letang finished the game with two points (G-A), plus-2 rating, four shots and team-high 28:14 minutes of ice time.
Author: Sam Kasan