Pens outwork Canadiens for 4-1 win

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (left) is checked by Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 in Montreal. (AP)

MONTREAL (TNS) – It often wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t perfect.

However, because the NHL doesn’t award style points, the Penguins figure to be quite content with their 4-1 victory against Montreal at the Bell Centre Wednesday evening.

The victory was the Penguins’ second in a row, snapped a three-game losing streak on the road and raised their record to 28-11-5.

That’s good for third place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind Columbus and Washington.

Defenseman Ian Cole put the Penguins in front to stay with the only goal of the opening period, as he beat Montreal goalie Carey Price on the short side from inside the left circle at 14:52.

Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist earned assists on the goal, Cole’s third.

Hornqvist also set a screen that prevented Price from getting a good look at Cole’s shot.

Eric Fehr, a healthy scratch the previous three games, reclaimed a place in the lineup because of the foot injury that will sideline center Matt Cullen for 3-4 weeks.

Fehr made the most of his opportunity at 5:19 of the second, as he took a pass from Chris Kunitz and threw a shot past Price from between the hash marks for his sixth of the season.

Scott Wilson, the other member of the fourth line, picked up the second assist.

Jake Guentzel made it 3-0 at 17:38 when he deflected a shot by Cameron Gaunce, who was making his Penguins debut, by Price for his sixth of the season.

Just 33 seconds later, however, Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen ended the shutout bid of Penguins goalie Matt Murray by beating him from in front of the net.

Murray had given up seven goals during the Penguins’ 8-7 victory against Washington two nights earlier, but coach Mike Sullivan said he had no qualms about starting Murray again.

“Matt’s had a history of responding pretty well to those types of games,” Sullivan said. “He’s also a guy who hasn’t played a lot of games, coming off his last injury, so we feel that with another game here, he’s going to get that much more comfortable with the decisions he makes and finding the puck, tracking the puck.

“The only way, as a goaltender, that you can get that is in game situations.”

Montreal never seriously threatened to get back into the game after Lehkonen’s goal, and Olli Maatta put it out of reach when he tossed a wrist shot past Price at 15:36 for his first off the season, off an assist by Conor Sheary.