Skip to main content

Penguins-Canadiens Preview

NHL.com @NHL

The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing so well they might not have to rely so much on Sidney Crosby to help them win.

The Penguins proved that in their last game, and will look to extend their season-high winning streak to seven games Sunday when they visit the Montreal Canadiens.

Crosby, who leads the NHL with 82 points, was held scoreless for the first time since Jan. 10, but Pittsburgh (26-17-8) defeated Washington 2-0 on Saturday.

Crosby had 17 points in his previous eight games, but only took two shots while playing against Washington star and reigning rookie of the year Alexander Ovechkin, also held without a point for the first time in 14 games.

"It's not too often Sid doesn't get a point, but when he does, it's good that other players step up and take the game under control," Penguins rookie Jordan Staal said. "That's what happened and it's a good feeling."

Despite the win, the Penguins likely wouldn't mind Crosby regaining his scoring touch Sunday against the Canadiens (28-19-6), who lost 4-2 to the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Crosby had three assists and defenseman Sergei Gonchar had two goals and an assist in Pittsburgh's 5-4 shootout win at home over Montreal on Thursday in a hard-fought game. After the opening faceoff, Crosby appeared to get hit in the stomach with the butt end of rookie Maxim Lapierre's stick, and the Penguins later responded when Colby Armstrong drove Saku Koivu into the end boards with a high check.

Armstrong wasn't penalized, but Canadiens defenseman and leading scorer Sheldon Souray was ejected after fighting him in retaliation.

"I know it was legal, he hit him with his shoulder, but when a guy's battling one-on-one and (another) guy comes from a blind spot and hits him, I don't like that," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "It should have been called. And I don't see how they got seven minutes on the power play out of that.

"It was definitely a cheap shot, I'm not afraid to say it."

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury continued his strong play Saturday. The top overall pick in the 2003 draft made 30 saves for his second shutout in three games. He made 40 saves against Montreal on Thursday and is 10-1-2 in his last 13 games.

"The guys were blocking shots and clearing rebounds and that's always a big help for me," said Fleury, who has stopped all but four of his last 106 shots in his last three games. "The team did a great job on him (Ovechkin), they were always close to him and he didn't get too many shots on net."

Pittsburgh is 8-0-1 in its last nine games, averaging almost five goals in that span.

Montreal allowed three third-period goals Saturday against New York in its second straight loss. It also was the Canadiens first regulation loss this season when leading after two periods.

"I think we have to look at the whole effort that we prepared tonight and it's just not good enough," Koivu said. "We had some power plays, we had some chances and we should have won this game in the first two periods. They battled, they fought until the end and got those three goals in the third period."

Radek Bonk and Mark Streit scored for Montreal. Bonk hadn't scored since Dec. 6 before netting two goals Thursday against Montreal.

View More