MONTREAL - Evgeni Malkin scored on a power play to break a scoreless draw early in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 18 saves to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a mostly uneventful 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL playoffs on Tuesday night.

Pascal Dupuis added a late empty-net goal for the Penguins, who showed they can play defensive hockey as well as Montreal.

The Pens lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal 2-1 with Game 4 set for Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

Malkin, who had been quiet in the first two games in Pittsburgh, ended a four-game scoring drought to help the Penguins wrest back the home-ice advantage they had given up with a 3-1 loss at home on Sunday afternoon.

It wasn't pretty hockey as neither team opened up its attack, and the Penguins allowed few good chances on Fleury, while Jaroslav Halak was strong in a losing effort as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 25-18.

The chants of "Ha-Lak, Ha-Lak!" went up from the crowd of 21,273 as soon as the Canadiens took to the ice, but unlike the first two games in Pittsburgh, the Canadiens goaltender faced only three first-period shots as the Penguins gave Montreal a taste of its own medicine by hanging back, blocking shots and protecting Fleury.

Still, Cammalleri broke through but shot wide, and with 1:16 left in the period, Maxim Lapierre rang a shot off the crossbar from close range.

It was the Penguins who held Montreal to three shots in the second frame and Halak had to be at his best, stopping Matt Cooke in alone and making a brilliant save on Alex Goligoski on a back door play.

Pittsburgh started the third on a power play with both of Montreal's shutdown defencemen, Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, in the penalty box.

Sergei Gonchar fed a pass to Malkin by the right boards for a one-time shot that beat Halak with Sidney Crosby screening in front.

Montreal had a glittering chance to tie the game on a late power play, but Fleury shot out a pad to stop Tomas Plekanec's tip at the edge of the crease.

Crosby was held without a point for a second straight game despite an energetic performance and didn't let his frustration show as he did in Game 2 when he smashed a stick on Halak's goalpost.

Since scoring twice in his first game at the Bell Centre in 2006, the Penguins captain has no goals and five assists in eight games in Montreal.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game.

Notes: Veteran right-winger Bill Guerin was a surprise scratch for the Penguis with an undisclosed injury. . . Montreal defence ace Andrei Markov, injured in Game 1, reportedly has a torn ACL and won't be back. . . Jaroslav Spacek sat out a seventh game with a virus, but centre Glen Metropolit was back in to replace Ben Max. . . Pittsburgh centre Jordan Staal skated briefly Tuesday morning but was unable to play. Coach Dan Bylsma lists him day to say after he needed surgery on a cut to a foot in Game 1.

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