After scoring 14 goals to start the season with a 2-2-2 record, Montreal has outscored its opponents 17-7 during a three-game winning streak.
In Friday’s 7-4 victory over Carolina, the Canadiens jumped out to a 5-1 first-period lead, scoring four goals with the man advantage. Montreal finished with five power-play goals Friday to match a franchise record for the sixth time, most recently set Feb. 15, 1975.
“We wanted to get the puck on the net and get rebounds,” said Tomas Plekanec, who had two goals and two assists - all on the power play. “We did all the right things and it paid off.”
Montreal has scored a NHL-best 16 power-play goals, and is converting a league-best 32.7 percent (16-for-49) of its opportunities with the man advantage.
“There are no secrets to it,” Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We have guys that can move the puck and make plays. You can pass it around for two minutes, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot it. That’s all we did. Just by shooting the puck a lot, it opened other options.”
Goaltender Cristobal Huet stopped 28 shots on Friday, and is 3-1-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average since Oct. 13. Huet is 3-0-0 with a 1.46 GAA and one shutout all-time against Pittsburgh, but did not start in net for Montreal (5-2-2) in its 3-2 win over the Penguins on Oct. 10. Rookie Carey Price, the fifth overall pick of the 2005 draft, made 26 saves to record his first career win in his NHL debut against Pittsburgh and could be back in net for this contest.
The Canadiens are 4-1-1 against the Penguins since March 26, 2006, and are 14-4-2 with a tie against them since the 2001-02 season.
Pittsburgh (5-4-0) lost to Toronto 5-2 on Thursday after winning its three previous games by one goal each. Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first period, but things quickly fell apart for Pittsburgh as it allowed five straight goals.
“I was really surprised,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “We didn’t compete. We didn’t execute. When you don’t executive, you create turnovers.”
Pittsburgh has yet to lose consecutive games this season.
Crosby also had an assist against the Maple Leafs, and has three goals and nine assists during an eight-game point streak. The reigning NHL scoring champion had an assist in the loss to the Canadiens earlier this month, and has recorded a point in all nine career games he’s played against them, tallying five goals and 10 assists.
Evgeni Malkin, the reigning rookie of the year, was inserted on Crosby’s line for the first time on Thursday, and had two assists. Malkin also picked up an assist against Montreal earlier this month to give him two goals and five assists in five career games against the Canadiens.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped just 22 shots on Thursday after making 36 saves in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the New York Rangers. Fleury made 32 saves in the loss to Montreal this month, and is 4-3-1 with a 4.10 GAA all-time against the Canadiens.