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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Pens #4

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
One night only: Homegrown netminder Marc-Andre Fleury may have pulled off a shutout on Tuesday night, but if history is any indication, his chances of repeating the feat on Thursday will be slim to none. Only one team since 1967 has managed to whitewash the Habs in two straight postseason games and they were coached by legendary bench boss Scotty Bowman. In 1983, Bowman’s Buffalo Sabres managed the feat in Games 2 and 3 of the series, sweeping the Canadiens in the best-of-five format that year.

Good things come in threes: Holding one of the best players in the world off the scoresheet two games in a row is no small feat, but just imagine how hard it is to three-peat. If the Canadiens are able to stymie Sidney Crosby again in Game 4, it will mark just the second time in the superstar’s young career that he’s gone pointless for three consecutive games by the same team. For the time being, the 2006-07 Rangers are the only other team who have managed to snuff out the Pens’ sniper in three-straight outings.

Road sweet road: As they patiently await the opening of their brand spanking new home starting next season, the Penguins continue to be forced to call the crumbling Mellon Arena home. Having clearly had their fill of the NHL’s oldest rink, the Pens appear far more cozy on the road these days. The Penguins are, after all, now a perfect 4-0 in away games this postseason. The Habs on the other hand will look to improve on their woeful 1-3 postseason record at the Bell Centre so far.

Special moments: With seven of the 13 goals in this series (empty-netters aside) coming with the extra man, the special teams power struggle being waged between both the Habs and Penguins’ power plays may be what tips the scales in their second round battle. While the Habs’ power-play efficiency of 22.2% is nothing to sneeze at, the Penguins are dangerously humming along at a 45.4% clip through Game 3.

Is it the shoes?: When it comes to filling the shoes of any player on the Canadiens roster, no pair of sneakers are tougher to walk a mile in than Andrei Markov’s. That hasn’t stopped P.K. Subban from trying to do exactly that with the help of the rest of the Habs’ blue line. Despite only being a 20-year-old rookie, Subban has been getting some extra credit assignments from head coach Jacques Martin. The young rearguard logged over 22 minutes of ice time in Game 3, doing everything from manning the point on the power play to grinding it out on the penalty kill. In the seven games he’s played for the Habs this season, Subban was held off the scoresheet for only the second time in Game 3.

See also:
Playoff Central
On the offensive 
So close
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