MONTREAL (AP) — Michel Therrien got another up-close look at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ high-powered offense. Only this time, the longtime coach watched from the opposing bench and didn’t really like what he saw.
Therrien and his Montreal Canadiens went back and forth all night with the Penguins and came out on the short end of a 7-6 overtime decision on Saturday.
Brandon Sutter finished the free-for-all 52 seconds into overtime to give the Penguins the win.
“That kind of game is great for the fans, but it’s what gives coaches gray hair,” said Therrien, the Penguins’ former coach. “But we managed to find a way to get a point.”
There had already been four lead changes when Sutter took a pass from Simon Despres on a rush, stepped around Max Pacioretty and beat goalie Carey Price with a high shot to the glove side to end the game.
That helped Pittsburgh snap a two-game skid and avoid being swept on a three-game road trip.
Sutter called it a big victory.
“Especially when you give up that many goals against,” he said. “We still managed to find a way to win.
“It might have been a tough night for goaltenders, but Tomas Vokoun still made a couple of big saves that kept us in the game. That’s all you ask of your goalies.”
Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz, both netted two goals, and Sidney Crosby also scored for Pittsburgh (14-8).
It was Crosby’s first regular-season goal in Montreal since his first game at the Bell Centre as a rookie in 2006.
“Nobody brought it up this morning, and I was glad,” said Crosby, who scored his 10th goal of the season and added two assists. “It was something I was aware of.
“I enjoy playing here, and I think that you want to play well in a building like this. It’s got so much atmosphere, and you know it’s going to be a big game. It was nice to finally get one.”
Brian Gionta had a pair of goals, and Brandon Prust, Pacioretty, David Desharnais and P.K. Subban also scored as Montreal (13-4-4) stretched its string of games without a regulation loss to 10.
The Canadiens failed to get a win for Therrien in his first game against the Penguins since he was fired as their coach in 2009.
“Crazy games like that happen,” Montreal defenseman Tomas Kaberle said. “Too bad we didn’t get the two points at the end of the night.
“We talked between periods that we lost a lot of pucks in the neutral zone. They’re a fast team. They can use their chances, and they certainly did. We don’t want to see games like that again. The previous games, we played good defensively and we have to get back to that.”
The Canadiens will begin a five-game trip Sunday night in Boston. The Canadiens and Bruins are tied for the Eastern Conference lead with 30 points, although Boston has three games in hand.
Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 39-26 in a wide-open game with shaky goaltending at both ends. The Penguins opted to go with veteran backup Tomas Vokoun instead of Quebec native Marc-Andre Fleury.
Montreal struck first in the fast-paced first period. Tomas Plekanec scored from the doorstep by putting in the rebound of Kaberle’s shot from the side boards at 5:41.
The Penguins tied it on a power play at 19:07 when Sutter broke into the zone and had his pass come back to him off Alexei Emelin’s skate to beat the fooled Price.
Brendan Gallagher’s charge to the net set up Pacioretty’s seventh goal in seven games 4:14 into the second period, but the Penguins answered with three straight goals.
Crosby made a deft move behind the net to set up Kunitz at the post for his 10th at 7:58, and Cooke’s long shot sailed past a screened Price only 31 seconds later.
Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges tipped a puck onto the onrushing Cooke’s stick for a goal from the high slot at 13:05.
But Montreal answered when Gionta put his stick between his legs to deflect Francis Bouillon’s shot at 17:37. An ill-advised icing set up a faceoff in the Penguins zone with seven seconds left in the period, and Gallagher set up Subban at the side of the net to tie it with 0.7 seconds left on the clock.
Desharnais put in Emelin’s rebound 5:25 into the third, but Kunitz one-timed Crosby’s pass for his second of the game at 8:33. Crosby put the Penguins ahead when he roofed a loose puck at 10:24.
Only 30 seconds later, Vokoun waved at Gionta’s long shot that made it 6-6.
“It’s not a game you like to play,” said Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who had four assists to give him 19 points in 19 games this season.
“Sometimes these things happen, and if you don’t play well defensively you have to bring something else, some energy.”
NOTES: Brandon Prust played in his 300th NHL game. … Montreal recalled C Gabriel Dumont from AHL Hamilton late Friday. He was a healthy scratch along with Yannick Weber. … Paul Martin, one of Pittsburgh’s top defensemen, sat out because of a lower body injury. Zach Boychuk and Robert Bortuzzo were also scratched.
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