PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - The Montreal Canadiens overcame the loss of top defender Andrei Markov to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 in Game Two on Sunday and level their Eastern Conference series with the Stanley Cup champions.
“He’s a huge part of this organization and we’re missing him but everyone is stepping up and that’s what we need to win,” 20-year-old defender PK Subban told reporters after proving an able replacement for his injured team mate.
In the Western Conference, Joe Thornton notched his first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs to lead the San Jose Sharks to a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings to take charge of their best-of-seven series.
On the heels of a stunning first-round win over the top seeded Washington Capitals, the Canadiens appeared to have run out of steam in their 6-3 loss to the Penguins in Game One.
Pulled for a poor performance in that defeat, goaltender Jaroslav Halak returned to his earlier impressive playoff form with 38 saves and the Montreal defense rallied in the absence of Markov, who injured his knee in Game One on Friday.
“In a game like this you have two options: you can freeze up or you can grasp the moment and enjoy it,” Subban said. “It was a lot of fun.”
“We had some second chances that we didn’t get our sticks on or missed. (Halak) played solid, there’s no doubt.”
Pittsburgh are missing valuable center Jordan Staal, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury, but the home team still took an early lead on Matt Cooke’s backhander at 4:38 in the first.
Brian Gionta tied the game for the Canadiens with 4:12 remaining in the opening period before Michael Cammalleri netted twice.
The left winger made the go-ahead score on a power-play at 7:29 in the second period before adding the final score with 2:54 of the game remaining.
“As a whole, we got the puck to the net and got some good chances,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after his team out-shot the Habs 39-21.
The Canadiens host the Penguins in Game Three on Tuesday.
In the West, the Sharks moved ahead 2-0 in their series with victory over Detroit on home ice.
The Sharks trailed 3-2 in the third period before Joe Pavelski tied the score with his second goal of the game at 4:40 and Thornton added the game-winner at 12:37.
“Tonight, we had to battle back all night. It’s just a good win,” Thornton told reporters. “It’s huge going up 2-0 going into their building. It’s a tough place to play, but we’ll be ready.”
Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Edited by Patrick Johnston; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org