Well, that was different.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, a phantom penalty on Tanner Glass cost them a late lead and the Canadiens went on to win 6-5 in a shootout. After two calendar years without a loss in the tiebreaker, Pittsburgh has now dropped two in a row beyond overtime, although their previous game was 20 days ago.
Sidney Crosby capped a two-point night with a power-play goal at 12:29 of the third period, putting the Penguins (40-15-4, 84 points) ahead 5-4. But after Glass was whistled for a non-existent elbowing major 19 seconds later, Daniel Briere quickly shoved in his second goal of the night from the doorstep to tie it up.
Pittsburgh did well to kill off the rest of Glass’ penalty, but they couldn’t generate the winning goal late in overtime, leaving the result up to the shootout. Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj, who appeared off his game in the first period, stoned James Neal, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to clinch the extra point after David Desharnais sneaked a forehand move past Marc-Andre Fleury in the second round.
Although the game came down to goaltending, it wasn’t a night for prevention as the two teams combined for 10 regulation tallies on 61 shots. Neal, Crosby, Brandon Sutter and Olli Maatta recorded a goal and an assist apiece, while Malkin helped set up two for the Penguins, who had leads of 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4.
Sutter scored a gorgeous shorthanded breakaway goal seven minutes into the third, taking advantage of a turnover by star Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban to put the Pens up 4-3. However, just 24 seconds later, Alexei Emelin sailed a long shot through a screen and past Fleury to knot the game again.
Neal and Deryk Engelland netted wrist-shot goals in the first period to overcome Brendan Gallagher‘s early strike off a goalmouth scramble. Briere tied it up at 2 at 6:17 of the second, then Maatta hammered a man-advantage goal from the blueline at 10:38.
The Canadiens (33-21-7, 73 points) countered with a pretty power-play tally of their own, as Desharnais and Max Pacioretty worked a high give-and-go that led to the latter gunning a one-timer over Fleury’s left shoulder.
The Penguins head outdoors Saturday for their first of two meetings with the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. The two teams will face off at 8 p.m. Eastern time from Soldier Field in the finale of the NHL Stadium Series.