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3 Impressions: Pens 4, Habs 0

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Head coach Mike Johnston gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins' 4-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

1. We had to be great on the backcheck and above on our forecheck and I thought we were good from start to finish.
2. We played a comfortable game defensively, and took our chances when we had them. We didn’t force anything.
3. Our transition game and down low game was good.

Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Penguins’ 4-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.

1. Breaking the Trend
Any time the Penguins and Canadiens get together the games become a wide-open affair. In the previous 10 games between the two clubs, the teams combined for 68 regulation goals, seven of the 10 contests were decided by one goal, five went into overtime and three ended in a shootout. This time around the Penguins defense and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were tested early and passed. Pittsburgh’s offense took over, exploding for four goals en route to the victory. The goals certainly came, but they all came from the Penguins.

2. Beau Knows
Assistant coach Rick Tocchet spent a portion of the Pens’ morning skate working with Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie on their offensive zone reads and plays. Whatever he did, Tocchet should consider doing before every game. The third line was electric, scoring the game’s first three goals. Particularly impressive was Bennett, who set a career high with three points (1G-2A). On his two helpers, Bennett displayed the hockey IQ and precision passing that made the Pens select him in the first round (20th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. The trio was put together by the coaching staff in training camp. Bennett’s lower-body injury stifled their time together. But now the three are starting to find their groove.

“Our line is starting to get more chemistry from the preseason,” Bennett said. “Tonight was a big step in the right direction. We just have to take that into Friday, Saturday and come out plus or even in every game.”

3. No Cigars
Don’t let the score fool you. This game was anything but a blowout. The play was pretty even and the Canadiens were pressuring the Pens for long stretches of the game. The difference though was the play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He made 27 stops in the contest. He was particularly strong early in the game when Montreal was coming at Pittsburgh fast and furious and during a bombardment in the third period to preserve the blanking. And Fleury had to be brilliant to earn his first regular-season shutout in his hometown of Montreal.

“It’s nice,” Fleury said. “Montreal hasn’t been my best city so it’s nice to get (the shutout).”

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