The Montreal Canadiens took the attack to the Pittsburgh Penguins and were rewarded with their third win in a row.
Brian Gionta had two goals and an assist and Jaroslav Halak made 18 saves to win his third straight start, leading Montreal to a 5-3 victory over Pittsburgh yesterday. The Canadiens will go for four straight when they host the Bruins today.
Gionta beat Brent Johnson for his second goal of the game - his 16th of the season - to put Montreal up by three 10:47 into the third.
Gionta recorded his first two points of the game 43 seconds apart in the second, scoring on a breakaway at 9:38 before assisting on Scott Gomez’s power-play goal that put the Canadiens up, 3-1, at 10:21.
“We were initiating the play,’’ Gionta said. “We weren’t sitting back and waiting for them to come to us. Against a team like that, so skilled, so offensively talented, you need to initiate the play and get them back on their heels.’’
Tomas Plekanec scored his 15th goal 29 seconds into the game and Mathieu Darche restored the Canadiens’ two-goal lead at 4-2 with his second goal 7:15 into the third.
Pascal Dupuis, Bill Guerin, and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins, who had won two in a row and four of five.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who was replaced by Johnson after Darche’s goal, made 24 saves. Johnson stopped three shots.
Kings 4, Red Wings 3 - Michal Handzus scored his second goal on a rebound with 2:21 to play as host Los Angeles erased a three-goal deficit to set a franchise record with its ninth straight victory.
Alexander Frolov, Handzus, and Ryan Smyth scored in the second period after Los Angeles fell behind, 3-0, in the first. Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for the Kings, who surpassed the franchise’s eight-game winning streaks during the 1991-92 and 1972-73 seasons.
Henrik Zetterberg scored two goals for the Red Wings, who lost for the ninth time in 12 games while losing three players, including forward Tomas Holmstrom, to injuries. Valtteri Filppula also scored for Detroit, and Jimmy Howard made 23 saves.
Handzus also had an assist, giving him six points in the surging Kings’ last two games.
Holmstrom, the Swedish Olympian, injured his left leg late in the first period. Left wing Drew Miller and right wing Patrick Eaves both went to the dressing room in the third with ankle injuries.
Just 16 seconds after Zetterberg opened the scoring with his 15th goal, Filppula’s soft backhand went into the net on a fluke deflection off the skate of Kings defenseman Sean O’Donnell. Detroit went up, 3-0, with five seconds left in the first period during a four-on-four stretch, when consecutive shots by Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski left the puck sitting alone in the crease, and Zetterberg slapped it home.
Maple Leafs 5, Senators 0 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere became the first goalie in Toronto history to have shutouts in his first two games with the team, stopping 30 shots to end visiting Ottawa’s winning streak at 11.
Stars 4, Coyotes 0 - Marty Turco made 34 saves for his 39th career shutout and rookie Jamie Benn had his first two-goal game as host Dallas snapped Phoenix’s season-best six-game winning streak.
Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 0 - Steve Mason stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the season, and Rick Nash and Raffi Torres scored against the NHL’s top penalty-killing team, and Jake Voracek tied a career high with three assists for host Columbus.
Hurricanes 3, Islanders 1 - Justin Peters made 34 saves in his NHL debut, and Jussi Jokinen, Patrick Dwyer, and Joni Pitkanen supported him with goals to help Carolina win in Uniondale, N.Y.
Rangers 3, Devils 1 - Henrik Lundqvist made 41 saves and Ryan Callahan triggered a three-goal outburst in the second period as New York beat visiting New Jersey.
Lightning 2, Flames 1 - Andrej Meszaros scored 1:58 into overtime for host Tampa Bay.
Thrashers 4, Panthers 2 - Newcomer Niclas Bergfors scored the go-ahead goal with 4:26 left as host Atlanta ended a three-game losing streak.
Wild 2, Flyers 1 - Anton Khudobin made 38 saves in his first NHL start, and Cal Clutterbuck and Owen Nolan scored for host Minnesota.
Blackhawks 2, Blues 1 - Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist and Antti Niemi stopped 34 shots as visiting Chicago snapped a season-high three-game losing streak.
Sharks 4, Predators 3 - Dany Heatley scored his second power-play goal of the game at 11:57 of the third period to break a tie for visiting San Jose.
Avalanche 3, Oilers 0 - Craig Anderson made 20 saves for his sixth shutout of the season, and Wojtek Wolski, Ryan Wilson and Brandon Yip scored in host Colorado’s victory.