Evan Rodrigues scored his ninth goal of the season and added two assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 victory over reeling Montreal on Tuesday night.
Rodrigues, who has been thrust into a higher-profile role due to injuries, matched a career-high of nine goals set during the 2018-19 season, when he needed 74 games to reach the total. He hit it in just 28 games this season.
Kasperi Kapanen, Mike Matheson, Brian Dumoulin and Brian Boyle also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its fifth straight.
Kris Letang picked up an assist to become the seventh active defenceman and 43rd all-time to reach the 600-point plateau. Sidney Crosby’s two assists marked the 400th multi-point game of his career, something only 13 other players have done in NHL history.
Jesse Ylonen scored the first goal of his career for Montreal. Jonathan Drouin added his fifth of the season and Jake Allen stopped 26 shots but couldn’t prevent the Canadiens from dropping their seventh straight. A little over five months after reaching the Stanley Cup finals under a modified playoff format as a result of COVID-19, Montreal sits in last place in the Eastern Conference.
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The Canadiens came out flying early, testing Jarry repeatedly in the opening minutes and hitting the post twice. The pressure, however, failed to produce a goal and Kapanen gave the Penguins the lead 11:08 into the first in a sequence that sums up where both teams are at as Christmas approaches.
Allen turned aside a shot by Letang from the point, but the rebound caromed off Rodrigues’ skate in the slot and floated in the air toward the net. Allen extended his glove to snag it, only to have Kapanen get to the puck first, bunting it over a surprised Allen for Kapanen’s seventh goal of the season and second since moving to the top line last week in place of the injured Guentzel.
Montreal recovered immediately. Droin made it a one-goal game just 14 seconds after Rodrigues’ goal. Matheson restored the advantage to two with a snap shot from high in the zone for his first goal since Oct. 23. Ylonen brought the Canadiens within 3-2 with a laser from the point with three seconds to go in the second.
The momentum didn’t carry over into the third. Dumolin’s fluttering slapshot from the blue line beat Allen 28 seconds into the third and the Penguins were on their way to matching a season-high winning streak they set while ripping off five straight from Nov. 18-26.