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By JEFF BARTL
(AP) — Sidney Crosby has scored in each contest during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ winning streak, with his latest milestone helping the team stay hot.
He’s been a thorn in the side of the Montreal Canadiens in recent matchups, too.
Pittsburgh seeks a fourth straight victory and its seventh in eight games against Montreal on Saturday night.
Crosby improved his league-leading point total to 30 on Friday, assisting on the first of Chris Kunitz’s two goals before scoring his own with 1:16 remaining to give the Penguins (15-8-0) a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders.
The captain knows Pittsburgh can play much better, though.
“We had a lot of chances, but that wasn’t our best game,” Crosby said. “We probably could’ve put it away early, but they hung around.”
The goal was the 250th of Crosby’s career, and he has three goals and two assists during Pittsburgh’s streak.
Evgeni Malkin scored his first goal in 16 games and recorded two assists for the third straight contest, tying him with San Jose’s Joe Thornton for the NHL lead with 21.
“It’s a good moment for him to get the goal,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “He’s played some really good hockey and has done some really good things. To see the puck dribble over the line was a great moment for him.”
Kunitz had his first multigoal game in his last 60 – including the postseason – for Pittsburgh, which has won four of five.
The Penguins are 6-0-1 in their last seven against the Canadiens, and Crosby has two goals and five assists during a four-game point streak in the series.
He’ll look to extend that run against a Montreal team that has won two straight after Friday’s 3-2 win at Washington. It scored each goal within the first 13:40 of the contest, as Travis Moen and David Desharnais netted their first of the season before Daniel Briere’s power-play tally.
Desharnais’ goal followed a two-assist performance in Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over Minnesota. The forward has received plenty of criticism lately for his lack of production, including a tweet from the mayor of Montreal last week that called for Desharnais to be sent to the minors.
He had one assist through his first 19 games.
Josh Gorges added two assists for the Canadiens (12-9-2), who are 4-1-1 in their last six.
“We had a really good start, obviously,” coach Michel Therrien said. “There is a lot of positive about winning a hockey game here.”
Peter Budaj made 25 saves Friday, but regular starter Carey Price should be back in net for this contest. Price is 2-1-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average in his last four starts after making 25 saves Tuesday.
He’s struggled against Pittsburgh recently, though, going 1-3-2 with a 3.48 GAA in his last six appearances, including five starts.
The Penguins will counter with Marc-Andre Fleury in goal after backup Jeff Zatkoff stopped 32 shots against the Islanders. Fleury ranks among the league leaders with a 1.90 GAA and made 18 saves in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Washington.
He’s 5-0-1 with a 2.39 GAA in his last six starts against the Canadiens.
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