Lemieux pads NHL scoring lead with 3 assists

MONTREAL (AP) -- Mario Lemieux had a big finish in store for his hometown fans.

Lemieux assisted on all three Pittsburgh goals, including Aleksey Morozov's tying goal with 9.8 seconds left in regulation, as the Penguins tied the Montreal Canadiens 3-3 Tuesday night.

"I love coming here,'' said Lemieux, who was born and raised in Montreal. "The fans are always there for me, especially when I had some difficult moments, and I've always appreciated that and tried to put on a good show for them.''

Lemieux, named the NHL's player of the week for the 24th time in his career Monday, increased his league-leading points total to 14. He has four goals and 10 assists in six games.

"Coming back like that in the third, it's good for the team and
it's good for our confidence,'' Lemieux said. "It was a difficult
game for us. They played really well from the start and it's good
to get out of here with a point.''

Alexei Kovalev, Lemieux's other linemate, scored twice as Pittsburgh extended its unbeaten streak to five following a 6-0 loss to Toronto in the season opener Oct. 10.

"We made some mistakes in the beginning that cost us two goals,'' Kovalev said. "We knew we're good enough to come back. We put a good effort out there to tie this game.''

Joe Juneau, Jan Bulis and Andrei Markov scored for Montreal, which is unbeaten in three games.

Pittsburgh came back with two goals to earn the tie after Markov
scored 5:34 into the third to put the Canadiens up 3-1.

Kovalev scored his fourth of the season -- and second of the game
-- on a power play at 11:19 to draw the Penguins within one.

Bulis, who assisted on Juneau's goal before scoring his own in
the first, was called for high-sticking with 1:30 left in the third
after clipping Lemieux.

Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore held off the Penguins' furious
assault on the ensuing power play until Lemieux passed from the
left wing boards across to Morozov, who banged the puck into the
open side from beside the right post.

"I never saw him -- it was luck,'' Lemieux deadpanned.

Theodore didn't realize Lemieux was passing the puck until it was too late.

"When I saw Mario, I know he's a guy who shoots from anywhere,
and I thought it was a shot -- I didn't think it was a pass,''
Theodore said.

Making his first start since allowing six goals for the second straight game one week earlier, Theodore was beaten by Kovalev 12:49 in.

Montreal has allowed the first goal in all six games this

Juneau tied it at 14:26 with his second of the season on a pass from Bulis and assisted on Bulis' go-ahead goal with 2:10 left in the period.

Markov scored his second of the season with 14:26 left in the
third, beating Johan Hedberg to complete a nice passing play with
Saku Koivu and Richard Zednik and put the Canadiens up by two.

Game notes
Lemieux received a diamond-studded ring from the Canadian Hockey Association earlier in the day to commemorate Canada's gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. ... Penguins massage therapist Tom Plasko and Canadiens equipment manager Pierre Gervais were also presented with rings. ... Hedberg assisted on Kovalev's second goal. ... Pittsburgh is 0-5-2-0 in Montreal since Jan. 31, 1999.