PITTSBURGH - The Canadiens will likely never forget their first shootout in team history nor their first encounter with Sidney Crosby following their 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
In his first career game against his favorite team growing up, Crosby put his childhood allegiances aside long enough to not only open the scoring in the first period but even notch the only goal of the shootout, to snap Montreal's five-game winning streak.
The Canadiens (12-3-2) did pick up a point in Pittsburgh thanks to a game-tying goal by a rookie of their own. Chris Higgins forced overtime when he scored his third of the season with time winding down in the third period. Montreal remains on top of the Eastern Conference with 26 points while the Penguins improved to 5-7-5.
Claude Julien's troops still boast a 6-0-2 road mark, having now piled up 14 of a possible 16 points away from the Bell Centre so far in 2005-06. No strangers to tight contests this season, the Canadiens are now 10-3 in one-goal games.
Jose Theodore had another strong night between the pipes, stopping 21-of-23 Penguins shots in addition to stoning both Mark Recchi and Mario Lemieux on their shootout attempts. Theodore made a number of key saves to keep the Canadiens in the game, including breakaway stops on Lemieux and Crosby in the opening frame.
Montreal spotted the Penguins a two-goal lead on tallies by Crosby and Lemieux before trying in vain to mount yet another one of their trademark comebacks. Craig Rivet continued his recent roll by trimming the lead to 2-1 on a power-play goal assisted by Mike Ribeiro and Radek Bonk. Higgins' tying goal was set up by Andrei Markov and Ribeiro who had two helpers on the night.
The Canadiens came into Pittsburgh as one of only three teams in the NHL yet to take part in a shootout, along with the Flyers and Red Wings. Although they were all unable to beat former Montreal netminder Jocelyn Thibault on their attempts on Thursday, Michael Ryder, Alex Kovalev and Alexander Perezhogin will now be the answer to a trivia question as the first Canadiens to ever participate in a shootout. Claude Julien did however do his homework, with his three shooters going a combined 8-for-12 in their preseason shootout attempts.
Thibault stopped 30-of-32 shots, before coming up big in the shootout for Pittsburgh in his first win as a Penguin, after being sidelined due to injury for most of the season.
The Canadiens were 1-for-3 on the power-play, while the Penguins were 1-for-8 with the man advantage.
The Canadiens now return home for a Saturday night date with the Maple Leafs. Prior to the game, the organization will pay tribute to a pair of legends by retiring the No. 12 in honor of Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer.
NOTES: C Jan Bulis and LW Pierre Dagenais didn't make the trip to Pittsburgh...Bulis missed his second game with a shoulder injury while Dagenais stayed home with the flu...D Sheldon Souray left the game in the second period with an apparent foot injury after taking a shot off his ankle...G Cristobal Huet dressed for his first game with the Canadiens as Jose Theodore's backup...After being sidelined for five games due to a groin injury, C Radek Bonk made his return to the lineup Thursday night and picked up an assist on Craig Rivet's goal... After being held pointless over nine games to start the season, Rivet now has six points in his last eight games...The Canadiens' 26 points so far this season puts the club among the top four best starts in franchise history through 17 games...
|Team ||Player ||Result |
|MTL ||Michael Ryder ||No goal |
|PIT ||Mark Recchi ||No goal |
|MTL ||Alex Kovalev ||No goal |
|PIT ||Mario Lemieux ||No goal |
|MTL ||Alexander Perezhogin ||No goal |
|PIT ||Sidney Crosby ||Goal |
Pittsburgh wins the shootout 1-0.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com