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Pacioretty scores 2 as Habs hold on to beat Penguins

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- Left winger Max Pacioretty had another big night to cap a big week for the Montreal Canadiens.

Pacioretty scored twice and goaltender Carey Price made 29 saves as Montreal held on to end the Pittsburgh Penguins' four-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.

Center Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens, who won their third in a row.

It was Montreal's second win in as many nights against the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division, including a 3-2 win Friday in Washington against the second-place Capitals.

"We had three tough games," said Pacioretty, who scored five goals during the Canadiens' streak, including a natural hat trick in a 6-2 win against Minnesota on Tuesday. "We played against a great team (Friday) night, and then playing back-to-back against probably some more skill on this team even, and it's definitely a good measuring stick for us. Everyone should have confidence now, knowing we can compete with these teams."

Pittsburgh left winger James Neal scored twice, including his third goal on a power play 5:44 into the third period to ruin Price's shutout bid and draw the Penguins to within 3-1.

Right wing Evgeni Malkin made a spectacular rush up the ice to set up Neal's second goal at 17:53 that cut the lead to one. Neal finished off the play for his fourth goal while Malkin slid heavily into the end boards.

Malkin was shaken up on the play but went back to Pittsburgh's bench and remained in the game.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was asked if he expected Malkin would be able to play Pittsburgh's next game Monday in Boston.

"I don't have any reason to believe he wouldn't be," Bylsma said. "He went in hard on his tailbone but he was fine."

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 of 29 shots for the Penguins, who lost to Montreal in regulation for the first time in their past eight encounters (6-1-1).

Center Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh's captain, was held off the scoresheet for only the sixth time this season after scoring a goal in each of his three previous games.

"It was tough, I think, in the second with giving them three power plays," said Crosby, who had three goals and two assists during his streak. "They got momentum from that and just having to play catch-up. And then in the third, I don't think we started the way we wanted. We battled hard to get back into it, but it's a tough game to play when you're fighting like that in the third."

Plekanec helped frustrate Crosby, who leads the NHL with 30 points.

"I didn't tell him anything; he was talking all the time," Plekanec said. "I'm a good listener."

Plekanec won 16 of the 21 faceoffs he took, mostly lining up against Crosby, who won just six of his 22 draws.

"It's not the first time, they've been on the ice together over the years and certainly their line did a job, for sure," Bylsma said. "They seemed to butt heads at different times throughout the night, but we've seen that before from those two."

Pacioretty, who had two goals through his first 12 games of the season, opened the scoring with an unassisted effort 1:53 into the second. He cut off Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta's pass from Pittsburgh's end in the neutral zone. The Montreal forward carried the puck over the blue line and put a wrist shot from the high slot past Fleury's glove for his sixth goal.

Plekanec made it 2-0 with his seventh goal 1:05 into the third, and Pacioretty increased the Canadiens' lead to 3-0 with his second of the game, his seventh, at 2:25.

Price, who was rested Friday, was sharp in the first when he stopped 12 shots.

"He was solid," said Crosby, who had four shots in the game. "We definitely started very well and got some really good chances so he kind of weathered the storm early on and allowed them to stay in the game and get that important first one in the second, but he was solid all the way through."

Right winger Ryan White had the Canadiens' best scoring chances in the opening period, including a shot on a 2-on-1 with left winger Travis Moen that Fleury denied with a big glove save.

Penguins left winger Tanner Glass left in the second period and did not return. Bylsma said that Glass suffered an upper-body injury and that his condition was still being evaluated.

NOTES: Penguins RW Beau Bennett did not travel with the team to Montreal because of an undisclosed injury. Bennett left in the third period of Pittsburgh's 4-3 win against the New York Islanders on Friday. ... Pittsburgh entered its only game at Bell Centre this season yet to have a 5-on-3 power play through its first 23 games. ... Penguins D Kris Letang played his 400th regular season game. ... Canadiens D Douglas Murray did not dress for the third time in four games. Murray, who signed a one-year, $1.5-million contract with Montreal on Aug. 22, has no points in 10 games this season. He played 14 games with Pittsburgh last season after he was acquired in a March 25 trade with San Jose, and 15 more for the Penguins in the playoffs. ... Montreal LW Rene Bourque missed his third game in a row because of a lower-body injury. ... Canadiens RW George Parros was left out of the lineup for a seventh straight game.
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