MONTREAL – Kris Letang returned from being bloodied by a hit late in regulation to score 2:09 into OT and help Pittsburgh move to 3-0-1 since Sidney Crosby’s return.
Letang’s face was splattered with blood after a bodycheck by Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with about three minutes left in the third period.
The Montreal-born defenceman left the ice for a concussion test, but returned in time to bury a winning goal that left the Habs—and their fans—fuming.
Letang dug the puck away from Price’s glove and slid it in the net, drawing jeers from the crowd, who thought the referee should have blown the whistle.
“It just came loose on my stick—I pulled it and I shot it,” said Letang, his nose still sporting a large blood drop after the game.
Pacioretty, who suffered a concussion and a cracked vertebra when he was hammered by Boston’s Zdeno Chara last season, apologized to Letang for the hit.
“It’s a quick decision there. He’s coming across the middle, he’s got the puck and is maybe in a scoring opportunity. If I let him go, he could potentially score on us,” Pacioretty said. “I knew I had to hit him but I didn’t want the result to be like that.
“I’m sorry for what happened and I’m glad he’s okay.”
Pacioretty’s hit might be looked at by league disciplinarian Brendan Shannahan.
Jordan Staal scored with 4:30 left in regulation to tie it for the Penguins, and Crosby got his eighth point in four games back from concussion-like symptoms that sidelined him for the better part of 11 months with an assist on Evgeni Malkin’s goal 21 seconds in.
It was Crosby’s first game back in Canada since his return.
Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 shots.
Pacioretty, Erik Cole and Travis Moen scored for Montreal. Carey Price made 38 saves.
CANUCKS 3, SHARKS 2
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—Henrik Sedin and Andrew Alberts scored goals less than a minute apart in the second period and the Vancouver Canucks showed they still have a leg up on the San Jose Sharks, winning the first meeting between the teams since last year’s Western Conference final 3-2 on Saturday night.
Manny Malhotra also scored and backup goalie Cory Schneider made 43 saves to lead the Canucks to their season-best fourth straight victory.
Andrew Murray and Patrick Marleau scored, and Antti Niemi made 24 saves for the Sharks, who had won four straight and six of seven.
Vancouver has won four straight games for the first time since taking the last two in the five-game conference final against San Jose in May and the first two in the Stanley Cup final against Boston. The Canucks ended up losing that series to the Bruins in seven games.
BRUINS 4, JETS 2
BOSTON (AP)—Chris Kelly scored two second-period goals and Tim Thomas stopped 40 shots to lift Boston to its 11th win in 12 games.
Zdeno Chara also scored for the Bruins, who overcame a 2-0 deficit to earn a point in their 11th consecutive game, its longest such stretch since 2004.
Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien scored 39 seconds apart in the first period for the Jets, who lost for just the second time in six games.
Thomas won his eighth straight start, while Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec made 32 saves.
RED WINGS 4, PREDATORS 1
DETROIT (AP)—Valtteri Filppula scored twice and added an assist to lead Detroit to its fifth straight win.
Filppula assisted on Henrik Zetterberg’s goal as Detroit won its league-best ninth game at home. Dan Cleary added his fourth goal of the season early in the third period.
Jack Hillen ended Jimmy Howard’s bid for his fourth shutout of the season when he scored midway through the third period. Howard ended the night with 18 saves.
Pekka Rinne had 33 saves for the Predators, who lost their fourth straight.
BLACKHAWKS 2, KINGS 1
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Jonathan Toews scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and Andrew Brunette also found the net to lead Chicago.
Corey Crawford made 25 saves and Duncan Keith had two assists for the Blackhawks, who won their seventh straight against the Kings.
Jarret Stoll ended a 17-game goal drought and Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots for Los Angeles. Mike Richards’ goal-scoring streak ended at five games.
Chicago improved to 9-0-1 when scoring first.
RANGERS 2, FLYERS 0
NEW YORK (AP)—Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots, Carl Hagelin scored his first NHL goal and the Rangers improved on their best home start in nearly 20 years.
After a scoreless first period that featured a fight 4 seconds into the game between New York’s Brandon Prust and Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo, Brad Richards scored a power-play goal 54 seconds into the second. Richards had a goal disallowed 24 seconds earlier.
The Rangers’ 6-1-1 start at Madison Square Garden is their best since they began the 1992-93 season 7-1-1. Philadelphia lost for only the third time this season on the road.
LIGHTNING 5, PANTHERS 1
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist, and Mathieu Garon made 24 saves for Tampa Bay.
Martin St. Louis, Tom Pyatt and Ryan Malone also scored for the Lightning, who were coming off a 2-1 overtime victory at Florida on Friday night.
Tampa Bay took control during the second when goals by Pyatt, Stamkos and Malone made it 4-0. Stamkos got his second of the game and 14th of the season in the final minute of play.
The Panthers got a late third-period goal from Shawn Matthias.
SABRES 5, CAPITALS 1
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Luke Adam scored twice, Jhonas Enroth made 26 saves and Zack Kassian scored his first NHL goal for Buffalo.
Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht also scored to help the injury-riddled Sabres snap a three-game winless streak despite missing nine regulars.
Enroth made his seventh straight start for injured starter Ryan Miller (concussion).
Jason Chimera scored on a penalty shot, and Tomas Vokoun made 23 saves for the sliding Capitals, who have dropped four straight on the road are 3-7-1 in their last 11 games overall.
COYOTES 3, STARS 0
Mike Smith stopped 26 shots for his second shutout, leading Phoenix to its first win over Dallas this season after a pair of overtime losses.
Smith, who blanked the Sharks in San Jose on Nov. 12, improved to 11-4-3 this season with his 13th career shutout. Smith needed to stop only 14 shots through the first two periods.
Mikkel Boedker scored in the first, Ray Whitney in the second and Taylor Pyatt in the final period for the Coyotes, who took 14 of their 22 shots in the opening session.
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was helped off the ice with a right knee injury in the first.
ISLANDERS 3, DEVILS 2
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Michael Grabner snapped a tie with a short-handed goal to help the Islanders pick up their first road win of the season.
Matt Moulson and Josh Bailey also scored for New York, which earned its third victory this month and improved to 1-5-2 on the road. Al Montoya had 22 saves.
Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique scored for New Jersey. Martin Brodeur made 23 saves.
The teams had 26 shots apiece. Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play; New York went 0 for 2, while New Jersey was 0 for 3.
AVALANCHE 5, OILERS 2
DENVER (AP)—Stefan Elliott scored his first NHL goal and Semyon Varlamov had 31 saves to lead Colorado.
Paul Stastny, Shane O’Brien, Jan Heda and Jay McClement scored, and Ryan O’Reilly, Milan Hejduk and Chuck Kobasew had two assists apiece as the Avalanche snapped a two-game home skid.
Ryan Jones had a goal and an assist, Ladislav Smid also had a goal and Devan Dubnyk had 24 saves for Edmonton.
The Avalanche trailed 2-1 before exploding for four goals in the third period.