Kostitsyn hat trick puts Habs over Pens
Last Updated: Saturday, December 27, 2008 | 11:50 PM ET
After a tough loss and six days off, the Montreal Canadiens were hoping to start their road trip on a high note. They did — thanks to Andrei Kostitsyn.
The winger, who sat out the last two games with a minor leg injury, scored his first career hat trick on Saturday to lead the Habs to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pittsburgh was the first stop on a four-game road trip, and 11 of the team's next 16 games are scheduled away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre, where the Habs spent most of December.
Carolina spoiled the finale of the homestand last Sunday, winning 3-2 in overtime.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price was solid throughout, stopping 32 of 34 shots, including 17 in the third period. "I felt pretty good," he told CBC Sports after the game.
"I thought our guys did a pretty good job of keeping everything to the outside, so that kind of made my job a little bit easier."
Kostitsyn got things started early and gave Montreal the lead less than two minutes into the game.
He was fed the puck in the slot by Tomas Plekanec and caught the Pittsburgh defence off-guard, burying the puck for his seventh goal of the season.
Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis tied things up with just over five minutes left in the first period after bouncing the puck off the end boards and Price.
Sidney Crosby assisted on the goal.
Deja vu goal
Kostitsyn responded just before the first period buzzer with a goal similar to his first, a shot on a pass in the slot from Plekanec that handcuffed the Pens' defence.
Crosby tied things up with 14:09 left in the second. It was his second goal in the last 13 games, a stretch that included Friday's win against the New Jersey Devils where Sid the Kid did not record a single shot.
Despite the recent drought, Crosby is tied for second in points with Washington's Alex Ovechkin. It was Crosby's 15th goal of the season.
Leading the league in points is teammate Evgeni Malkin, who entered Saturday's contest with one point in 10 of the last 11 games. "Two great players," said Price of Malkin and Crosby.
"They're always in the open. That's what makes them so good, they always find the open ice."
But Price managed to contain Malkin on Saturday, as Malkin stayed off the game sheet except for an early minor penalty.
Kostitsyn completed the hat trick at the start of the third frame with a long shot that went through the legs of Brooks Orpik and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, putting the Habs ahead 3-2.
The result lifted Price to 6-0-4 in his last 10 games, and took the Habs to 3-0-1 in their last four.