The Pittsburgh Penguins knocked the Canadiens out of first place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over the visiting Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon.
Sidney Crosby, with his 13th goal of the season, and Joe Vitale scored for the Penguins and Tomas Vokoun stopped 31 shots as Pittsburgh won its ninth straight game to improve to 22-8-0 and move two points ahead of the Canadiens (19-5-4). Boston trails the Canadiens by one point with a 19-5-3 record.
Evgeni Malkin missed his fifth straight game for the Penguins with an upper-body injury.
“It seems like it’s always different guys, so that’s what you need in order to have success consistently,” Crosby told reporters after the game. “We’ve been getting that lately. Our depth is a big part of our success. We need to continue to show that.”
The Penguins played the final two periods without defenceman Kris Letang following a collision with the Bruins’ Brad Marchand.
Crosby leads the NHL scoring race with 13-35-48 totals in 30 games and is eight points ahead of teammate Chris Kunitz, who was in second place following Sunday’s game with 18-22-40 totals.
The Canadiens were given the day off Sunday following their 2-1 win over the Devils Saturday night in New Jersey and will return to the ice at 11 a.m. Monday in Brossard as they prepare for Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN Radio 690). The Canadiens then travel to Long Island to face the Islanders on Thursday, before the Sabres visit the Bell Centre again on Saturday.
Next week the Canadiens are in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Boston on Wednesday.
Buckle up the chinstraps.
The Canadiens announced Sunday that they have signed defenceman Darren Dietz to a three-year entry-level contract. The Canadiens selected Dietz in the fifth round (138th overall) of the 2011 NHL entry draft. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder has 24 goals and 34 assists in 72 games this season with the Saskatoon Blades. He also has 100 penalty minutes and is a plus-9.
(Photo by Vincent Pugliese/ Getty Images