Marc-Andre Fleury was at his best when it mattered most on Saturday night.
Fleury made 33 saves to guide the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. He was particularly outstanding in the third period, stopping 17 shots to hold on for his 15th win of the season.
“He had to make some really tough saves all night,” said captain Sidney Crosby. “Especially when they were pushing at the end. He was solid again. You need that when a team is coming at you like that.
“You need a few of those saves and he did it again for us tonight.”
The Sorel, Que., native prevented Montreal from finding the equalizer in the game’s dying minutes and is now 20-11-3 all-time against the Canadiens.
Perhaps his best save was on P.K. Subban, who had beaten him earlier in the game. With David Desharnais screening him, Fleury stuck out his glove at the last possible second to rob Subban of a goal with five minutes on the clock.
“I was just looking to my right and saw it going to my left,” said Fleury. “I just put something there, and it was in my glove. I owed him one, so it was a good feeling.”
At the other end of the rink, Mike Condon was almost as impressive — stopping 29-of-31 shots in defeat for Montreal (23-17-5).
Down 2-1 in the third, Condon robbed Crosby of a sure goal after flashing the leather while the Penguins (20-16-5) had the man advantage.
And Condon had to be sharp in the first period to keep the game scoreless. He made a sensational pad save on Crosby early on, and made back-to-back stops on Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang late in the frame.
“He played awesome,” said Max Pacioretty. “We have to be better in front of him. He shut the door. A lot of big saves, that glove save on Crosby. He played great.”
Added Crosby: “A few of those saves were definitely good ones, and he held them in the game early on.”
The Canadiens backup goalie, however, was less dominant in the second, when Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust scored to prevent him from registering his fourth consecutive victory.
With Torrey Mitchell in the box for high sticking, Hornqvist eluded Montreal’s defence and slotted home his ninth of the season from the edge of the crease at 7:18 to make it 1-0.
Evgeni Malkin got an assist on the goal, his ninth point in his last six games.
Pittsburgh’s power play, ranked 15th overall in the NHL, has been dominant over the last four weeks, scoring 11 goals in their last 10 games.
Shortly after Subban tied things up in the same frame, Rust beat Condon top shelf for the game winner — his second career NHL goal. Blown coverage by defenceman Greg Pateryn led to Rust’s breakaway.
Pateryn was in the lineup replacing the injured Jeff Petry (lower body).
Eric Fehr, into an empty net, also scored for the Penguins at 19:50 of the third.
Pittsburgh was all over Montreal for much of the game, beating the Habs to loose pucks and applying constant pressure on the puck carrier.
Montreal has not won consecutive games since late November.
Subban’s one-timer from the point in the second period was his second goal of the season and first in 34 games.
Coach Michel Therrien announced on Friday Carey Price would not play until after the all-star break, meaning the Canadiens starter could miss at least another seven games.
Notes: Andrei Markov was reunited with Subban on Montreal’s top defensive pairing. They each played more than 28 minutes. Pittsburgh’s Tom Kuhnhackl, 23, made his season debut. This was the last of three meetings between the Canadiens and Pens this season.