Malkin, Gonchar help Penguins snap skid, edge Canadiens

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) — The Pittsburgh Penguins finally reaped
the benefits of defenseman Sergei Gonchar’s return from a
devastating injury.

All-Star Evgeni Malkin recorded a goal and an assist and Gonchar
snapped a tie at 7:18 of the third period as the Penguins edged
the Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, on Thursday.

Petr Sykora, Miroslav Satan and Maxime Talbot each tallied and
Ruslan Fedotenko notched two assists for Pittsburgh, which had
lost two straight games and six of its last nine.

“It’s a big, emotional win for us and it’s good for the coaching
staff, too,” Talbot said.

Tomas Plekanec netted a pair of goals and set up another and
Andrei Kostitsyn scored and registered two assists while newly
acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider also tallied for the
Canadiens, who have dropped three in a row and seven of their
last eight.

“It was a tough one, but the last two games there have been a
lot of good things from this group,” Plekanec said. “I’m sure
we’re going to keep going and if we keep playing like we did the
last two games, good things will come.”

Gonchar, who came back from a shoulder surgery on Saturday,
netted his first goal of the season at the most opportune time.
The blue-liner fired a hard slap shot from the slot that sailed
by All-Star netminder Carey Price, who finished with 23 saves.

“When you’ve got a shot like that, eventually the puck is going
to go in,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “He got a good
look from the middle of the ice and that’s where he likes to
shoot it, so that was a great shot. I’m happy for him.”

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Malkin snapped a 2-2 tie 29 seconds into the third and Talbot
doubled the lead 2 1/2 minutes later. However, Montreal crept
back as Kostitsyn and Plekanec tallied in a three-minute span to
forge a tie.

Sykora opened the scoring midway through the first, but Plekanec
struck for his first goal of the contest at 6:22 of the second.
Satan registered his 15th tally of the season 63 seconds later
and Schneider – acquired via trade with the Atlanta Thrashers
earlier in the week – scored a power-play goal with 4:56 left in
the session to level the game at 2-2.

“I thought, again, we played well enough to win,” Schneider
said. “When you’re going through periods like this it can be
frustrating. You can sense it in the room a bit. But there
were a lot of great things out there.

“We showed a little resiliency to come back down from two goals
and we gave ourselves a chance to win, but you almost have to
play a perfect game when you’re going through these periods.”

Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 23 shots for the Penguins, who
earned their first win under new interim coach Dan Bylsma.

“Our guys were energized, focused and ready to go,” Bylsma said.
“I think they had a clear understanding of what was at stake and
the way we wanted to play. While I said it wasn’t perfect, I
think they sent a message loud and clear.

“This is a team that we can go and play aggressive and we were
aggressive defensively like we wanted to be. It was a great