The Penguins (14-8-0) avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season with the victory.
Coach Dan Bylsma gave goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury the night off and tinkered with the lines before the game, and the Pens triumphed in a wild game due in part to holding the Montreal Canadiens 0-3 on power play opportunities.
Sidney Crosby had three points in the win.
The Pens opened the game aggressively, pushing the puck into the Montreal defensive zone, but Montreal withstood the pressure. The Habs harried Pittsburgh all over the ice, eventually cashing in with a goal from t Brandon Prust on an assist from Tomas Kaberle. The Penguins increased the intensity with smart, precise action on offense before Crosby raced by the entire Canadiens’ defense, drawing a holding penalty on the Habs’ Max Pacioretty. The Pens’ Brandon Sutter slapped in a goal on assists from Letang and rookie Beau Bennett to tie the game, but Pascal Depuis collected a bad holding penalty at the end of the period.
Montreal started the second period on a power play, but Pittsburgh killed it and the Pens played with an edge for most of the second period.
After a giveaway in the Pens’ defensive zone that resulted in Montreal’s Pacioretty scoring on assists from Brendan Gallagher and Travis Moen, the Penguins swarmed Montreal and scored two goals in 30 seconds. Crosby created an opportunity from scratch, breaking down the Canadians’ defense, and despite losing the puck behind him, managed to reach back with a leg and kick it forward to himself, firing a shot on goal. He followed the puck behind the bet and fed Kunitz, who fired the puck of Montreal goaltender Carey Price for an easy goal.
Soon after, Matt Cooke scored on assists from Brooks Orpik and Letang. The dominating play continued when the Pens’ Cooke blasted an unassisted bullet from the blue line for his second goal of the game. After a penalty on Tyler Kennedy, Montreal’s Brian Gionta scored on assists from Francis Bouillon and Lars Eller as Kennedy exited the box. A frantic final minute ended with Montreal’s P.K. Subban scoring on a wrap-around with assists from Gallagher and Pacioretty with less than a second remaining in the period and the game was tied 4-4 after two periods.
The Penguins came out of the break flying around the ice. In a back and forth third period, Montreal broke open the tie on a David Desharnais goal with assists from Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov, but the Penguins answered with Kuntiz’s second goal of the night on assists from Crosby and Letang. The Pens’ took the lead on a Crosby goal with assists from Letang and Kunitz, but thirty seconds later, Montreal answered with Gionta’s second goal on an assist from Eller. Pittsburgh gave up a power play, but the Pens kept Montreal out of the net and headed into overtime.
Less than a minute into the extra period, a beautiful combination of passes from James Neal to rookie Simon Despres to Sutter lead to a wide open shot, and Sutter slammed home the winning goal, his second of the game and sixth of the season.
The Penguins return home to face Tampa Bay on Monday.