The march through March continues for the Penguins.
With Friday’s 6-3 win over Montreal at Mellon Arena, the Penguins (40-21-10) have won seven of the nine games they’ve played this month and earned a point in one of the two losses.
Sidney Crosby scored his 30th goal of the season 4:28 into the game in dramatic style. Crosby darted through four Montreal defenders before he dove and shot the puck past David Aebischer. Mark Recchi and Ryan Whitney assisted on the play.
“I just thought there was a hole there. I just tried to split the defense and get a shot off,” Crosby said. “I was just trying to drive through the middle. There wasn’t much going through my mind beside trying to break through them.”
Erik Christensen gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left on the clock. He intercepted Aebischer’s clearing attempt off the boards, fired it on net and it slipped through the Canadiens’ goaltender, who was retreating back into his net.
Christopher Higgins found the back of the net on a wraparound 3:33 into the second period for a power-play goal.
Sheldon Souray ripped a power-play slap-shot past Marc-Andre Fleury with 3:54 left in the period to knot the game at 2-all.
Christensen struck again for the Penguins 3:40 into the first period. Cycling in front of the net, he one-timed Evgeni Malkin’s pass from behind the net past Aebischer for a 3-2 lead. Michel Ouellet added an assist on the play.
Gary Roberts gave Pittsburgh a 4-2 cushion 1:20 later when he jammed a rebound past Aebischer. Colby Armstrong and Alain Nasreddine picked up assists.
Andrei Markov tallied a power-play goal 1:30 later to slice the Canadiens’ deficit to 4-3.
However, Ouellet responded when he one-timed a perfect saucer pass from Malkin past Aebischer. Near the far face-off circle, Malkin lofted a sharp pass that landed right on Ouellet’s blade along the near post. He slammed it in for a 5-3 Penguins lead.
Crosby tallied an empty-net goal with 1:05 remaining to put the game out of reach. Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone assisted on the play.
“They played desperate tonight. I thought the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game, we set the tone and did a good job,” Crosby said. “We gave them tons of opportunities, but we played well late. There will be lapses like that, but we have to learn from it. Every line stepped up and gave us some big goals.”
Fleury stopped 25 shots to earn the win in goal.
ICE CHIPS: Michael Leighton, Radek Bonk, Sergei Samsonov, Alex Kovalev and Alexander Perezhogin were the Canadiens’ scratches…Mark Eaton, Joel Kwiatkowski, Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman were the Penguins’ scratches…The announced attendance was 17,132…Erik Christensen (No. 1), Evgeni Malkin (No. 2) and Michel Ouellet (No. 3) were the game’s three stars.