MONTREAL (AP)—Saku Koivu is developing another offensive weapon to add to his playmaking abilities—putting the puck in the net himself.
Michael Ryder scored a power-play goal in the first, the first of four Montreal goals with the man advantage. Alex Kovalev, Koivu and Sheldon Souray added power-play goals in the second. Maxim Lapierre added an empty-netter with 21 seconds left in the game.
Koivu, who leads the Canadiens with 14 goals, scored Montreal’s other even-strength goal in the second. It was the Montreal captain’s fourth multiple-goal game in December, one short of the team record of five in one month set by Maurice Richard in 1944, and subsequently matched by Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt.
“I’ve been working a lot on my shot and things around the net, maybe that’s one of the reasons, but I’m not really used to scoring that many goals, it’s been more of a playmaking thing,” said Koivu, who had 17 goals last season and a career high 21 in 2002-03. “But I’ll take these goals, and it’s obviously enjoyable.”
Sidney Crosby—who entered with 10 points in his last two games—had an off night by his recent standards, though he extended his points streak to eight games when he set up Alain Nasreddine’s first NHL goal on a delayed penalty to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead with 0.2 seconds left in the first.
Penguins rookie Evgeni Malkin scored his 16th goal during 4-on-4 play 12:05 in. Erik Christensen got his fifth goal in the third for Pittsburgh, which ended a four-game winning streak that fell one short of matching a season high.
“When you give up four power-play goals on the road you’re not going to be successful, and that’s what happened tonight,” said Mark Recchi, who assisted on Nasreddine’s goal.
The Canadiens went 1-for-3 on the power play in the first, and 3-for-4 in the second. Montreal killed all seven of the Penguins’ power-play opportunities.
Cristobal Huet finished with 31 saves and kept Montreal in the game in the first when the Penguins held an 18-3 advantage in shots while enjoying five power plays, to the Canadiens’ three.
“We didn’t want to play them the way we did in the first,” Huet said. “In the second, we skated more and they were in penalty trouble and we were able to capitalize on our chances on the power play. It was a good feeling to see the guys bounce back and get some great goals by Sak and everybody else.”
The Canadiens turned the game around in the second, scoring three of their four goals in the period on the power play as they outshot Pittsburgh 23-6.
“We were very good in the first,” Recchi said. “We skated, and they took penalties. In the second, they skated, and we took penalties, but they took advantage of it.”
Kovalev drew Montreal even 9:29 into the middle period when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot from a sharp angle.
Koivu, who scored twice in Thursday’s 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, got his 13th goal at 15:50 to put Montreal up 3-2, and Souray made it a two-goal lead when he drove a slap shot past Fleury on a two-man advantage at 17:25.
Koivu got his second of the game—his team-leading 14th—when he deflected Andrei Markov’s pass past Fleury to increase Montreal’s lead to 5-2 with 5 seconds left in the period.
Fleury made 27 saves. … The Penguins had a five-game winning streak from Oct. 19-Nov. 1. … Souray has scored two of Montreal’s five goals with a 5-on-3 advantage this season. … Canadiens LW Christopher Higgins returned after missing 18 games with a high ankle sprain.