Erik Christensen also put the puck past Aebischer for the Penguins, who won their second shootout in a row – they beat Dallas 4-3 on Friday – after losing five of their first six. Montreal lost its fifth in nine shootouts as Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped the final two Canadiens shooters, Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec, after Alexei Kovalev had matched Christensen’s score.
The Canadiens trailed 4-2 after Sergei Gonchar scored twice during a seven-minute Pittsburgh power play in the second period and Malkin tipped in another slap shot by Gonchar on a different power play. But Montreal tied it on goals by Mike Johnson and Mathieu Dandenault in the final 5½ minutes of the third.
Johnson scored Montreal’s second short-handed goal of the game – Radek Bonk also got one – and NHL-leading 15th this season. Dandenault scored the tying goal, only his second of the season, when he threw the puck toward the net from the right circle and it deflected off defenceman Rob Scuderi’s skate and past Fleury with 2:21 left in the third.
Sidney Crosby, drilled in the midsection by Maxim Lapierre immediately after the opening faceoff to set the tone for a physical and feisty game, assisted on each of the Penguins’ first three goals. He became the first player to break the 80-point mark this season with 82, including 25 goals. He was the only Penguins shooter stopped in the shootout.
Montreal tried to establish its toughness from the start. But the Canadiens’ aggressiveness cost them when Sheldon Souray was ejected for jumping on Colby Armstrong, punching him several times and slamming him to the ice after Armstrong levelled Saku Koivu behind the Montreal net.
Souray drew a five-minute fighting major and a two-minute instigating penalty and, about midway into the extended penalty time, Montreal went down two men when Bonk was called for interference.
Bonk returned during the long power play to score short-handed, but Pittsburgh was already up 2-0 following Malkin’s 25th goal and Gonchar’s slap-shot goal during the two-man advantage. Gonchar scored his second of the game and ninth of the season, on another slap shot from the high slot, with 15 seconds left in the Souray-caused power play.
Bonk scored again, his eighth, late in the second, but Christensen answered with his 10th of the season to make it 4-2 midway through the third.
Notes: Montreal led 44-33 in shots, 7-0 in overtime when Pittsburgh was short-handed for the final 1:40 after Gonchar was called for holding. … Crosby has more assists (57) than any Penguins player has points. Crosby has an eight-game scoring streak (4 goals, 13 assists). … Penguins forward Mark Recchi turned 39 on Thursday. … Aebischer made his second successive start, the first time he’s done so since Nov. 7-11.