MONTREAL – It’s been rare this season to see Carey Price cracking jokes after a shootout.
The Montreal goaltender had been 1-5 in games decided by penalty shots this season when he stopped six of eight Pittsburgh Penguins attempts to help the Canadiens pull out a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
Tomas Plekanec got the game-winner when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury on Montreal’s eighth attempt and Price closed it by stopping Jason Williams.
”We blew two leads, but at the end of the day, I thought we kept a really positive attitude on the bench,” said Price. ”On the ice, that translated.”
Then, with a smirk, he read one of the inspirational slogans painted on the dressing room wall in a schoolboy voice: ”A positive attitude is a powerful force that can’t be stopped.”
The statistics this season made the shootout a David versus Goliath battle. Price had saved only 10 of 20 shootout shots while Fleury saved 21 of 25. Montreal shooters were 4-for-23, while the Penguins were 12-for-28.
Both teams had scored twice in this shootout before Plekanec’s winning wrist shot went in off a goalpost. Steve Sullivan had one for Pittsburgh and Evgeni Malkin beat Price with a spin-a-rama move.
”I think I almost got a piece of it, but with that big, long reach and those hands, he’s got a lot of cats in the bag,” Price said of Malkin.
Rene Bourque and Lars Eller had other shootout goals for Montreal.
Montreal (21-24-9) won a second game in a row and beat the Penguins (30-19-5) for the first time in four meetings this season, although three of the games went to either overtime or a shootout.
Louis Leblanc and Eller had goals in regulation time for Montreal. James Neal, with his career-high 28th goal, and Pascal Dupuis scored for the Penguins, who outshot Montreal 34-30.
Plekanec was in alone on Fleury at least twice during regulation time but was stopped. On one, defenceman P.K. Subban was forced to make a skate save in the crease while killing a penalty and Alexei Emelin then sent Plekanec in on a breakaway that was saved.
He made no mistake in the shootout, however.
”Every time I go for a shootout or a breakaway I have something in mind I want to do but every time I change my mind,” said Plekanec, who had six shots on goal. ”This time I stuck with what I wanted to do, shoot glove side, and it went in off the post.”
”We lost, so it’s not very memorable,” said Fleury. ”It was fun, interesting, good for the crowd, you know, but disappointing to lose that one.”
”We drew even with a big goal by Neal and then had to kill a penalty with four and half minutes left,” said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma, whose team went 1-2-1 on a four-game road trip but is 9-2-1 in its last 12 games. ”To kill that off and get a point, that’s a big point.”
Neal tied the game at 7:32 of the third period when Malkin’s pass from behind the net went off Plekanec’s stick right to the Pittsburgh winger to score on a quick shot from short range.
After a scoreless first period, the Canadiens got on the board 11:21 into the second when Andrei Kostitsyn chipped a puck into the Pittsburgh zone that was gathered in by Leblanc to score from the right wing.
Many of the best chances in the game came from both team’s strong penalty killing units and Pittsburgh’s came through with the tying goal 1:03 into the second frame.
Erik Cole’s pass was picked off at the Penguins blue-line and he sped down the right wing and fed a pass across the crease that went in off the skate of Dupuis, who looked to drag his foot but made no kicking motion to get it past Price.
Only 1:57 later, Eller threw a harmless-looking shot from long range toward the net before going on a line change and saw it hit the far post, off Fleury’s backside and into the net. Eller didn’t see it go in and looked confused by the sudden roar from the crowd.
”Goalies like to cheat,” said Eller. ”He probably thought I was going to go short side and I tried to go toward the other corner. Goal post, in. I guess that’s what you could call luck.”
Montreal defenceman Yannick Weber suffered a lower-body injury and had to be helped off the ice during overtime after a hip check from Chris Kunitz. Thereas no immediate word on his condition.
Overtime ended in a brief melee after P.K. Subban jostled with Malkin and Kris Letang put a flying tackle on the Montreal defenceman. Only two minor penalties were called.
”I was stepping in for the best player in the world right now,” said Letang. ”So I was just making sure we send the message that they’re not going to touch our players.”
Notes: Pittsburgh placed Aaron Ashom (concussion symptoms) on injured reserve and called up Jason Williams from Wilkes-Barre. Colin MacDonald returned to the lineup after sitting out two games. Forward Tyler Kennedy has joined the injured list with a lower body injury. . . Ben Lovejoy was scratched. . . Travis Moen returned after missing five games with an injury. Montreal sat out Rafael Diaz and Ryan White.