PITTSBURGH – David Desharnais scored the lone goal in the shootout, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a wild 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night.
Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj, in his second straight start for injured starter Carey Price, stopped Penguins shooters James Neal and Sidney Crosby before denying Evgeni Malkin’s slap shot for the win.
Desharnais, the third shooter for Montreal, slammed on the brakes at the top of the crease before sliding the puck by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Daniel Briere scored twice, once on the power play, and Max Pacioretty also scored with the man advantage, his 27th of the year. Brendan Gallagher netted his 15th for the Canadiens and Alexei Emelin also scored his second of the season.
Crosby, who leads the NHL with 80 points, scored his 29th and added an assist. Neal scored his 21st for his 300th career point and also had an assist, while Malkin provided two assists, both extending six-game point streaks. Olli Maatta scored his seventh of the season on the power play and had an assist, while Brandon Sutter had a short-handed goal, his 10th of the year. Deryk Engelland also scored his career-high fifth goal.
The teams were tied at 3 after two periods and both scored twice in the third, sending the game to overtime.
Three of the four third-period goals were scored by special teams units, Sutter giving the Penguins a 4-3 lead with a short-handed breakaway goal and Crosby later putting Pittsburgh ahead 5-4 on the power play.
Emelin tied it 24 seconds after Sutter gave the Penguins the initial lead and Briere sent the game to overtime with his second goal of the game.
With the Canadiens trailing, the Penguins’ Tanner Glass was issued a five-minute major for a hit on Emelin. The call was elbowing, but video replays showed Emelin’s stick came up and hit him in the head.
The Canadiens cashed in anyway, Briere tying it with his second of the game when he feathered a back-door rebound behind Fleury, who made 24 saves.
Budaj, who stopped 27 shots, made his second straight start after turning aside 28 shots during an overtime loss one day earlier against Detroit.
Price was named the top goaltender at the Olympic games after going 5-0 with a 0.59 goals-against average and two shutouts, leading Team Canada to a gold medal. Price, who aggravated a lower-body injury sustained in Sochi, will be re-evaluated Friday.
Pittsburgh played for the first time since the Olympic break, while Montreal lost in overtime to Detroit Wednesday night.
Both struggled defensively, allowing six goals through two periods.
The Penguins, who lead the Eastern Conference, are gearing up for a stretch run that features 24 games in 46 days. They play their third outdoor game in team history Saturday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field, part of the NHL’s Stadium Series. It’s the start of a season-high five-game road trip that includes a quick West Coast trip for games against Anaheim and San Jose.
Briere tied it at 2 midway through the second period with his 10th of the season, taking a puck off the end boards and drifting backward until he released a shot to the top-right corner past an out-of-position Fleury.
The teams traded power-play goals midway through the period, Maatta giving the Penguins a lead with a slap shot from the point and Pacioretty knotting the score after a give-and-go with Desharnais.
NOTES: Penguins’ D Kris Letang spoke with reporters Thursday morning, the first time since suffering a stroke and said he will likely play hockey again, but it’s unclear if he will return this season. . Paul Martin, out 4-to-6 weeks after breaking his hand in the Olympics, was scratched along with recently recalled D Simon Despres. . Price, C Ryan White, and D Francis Bouillon were scratched for Montreal. . Penguins F Jussi Jokinen recorded his 400th career point.