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Aftermath: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Recap (AP) | Photo Gallery | Game Highlights      

Pregame Show | Crash The Net
The loss to Montreal was tough to swallow for the Penguins. Pittsburgh outplayed, outshot, outhit and out-chanced the Canadiens, yet still came away with no points. Habs goaltender Carey Price put on a spectacular performance, making 32 saves, to lift his team over the Penguins.

Pittsburgh gave a superb effort and controlled most of the play in the second and third period. The Penguins should hold their heads high, although losing a game in which they played so well is very frustrating. Simply put, the night belonged to Price and the Canadiens.
(AP) - Andrei Kostitsyn had his first career hat trick, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Kostitsyn, who missed the previous two games with a minor leg injury, scored twice in the first period and had the winner in the third. Tomas Plekanec added two assists for Montreal, 3-0-1 in its past four games.

Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who have scored only three goals in the past three games.

Ruslan Fedotenko dives for a puck in front of Tom Kostopoulos (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Effort
On paper, Pittsburgh should have won this game. The Penguins had the edge in shots, 34-19, shot attempts, 58-30, hits, 28-21, and faceoffs, 27-23. But the game isn’t played on paper. The Penguins carried the play in the second and third period but couldn’t muster a puck behind Montreal goalie Carey Price.

What Didn't Work: Protecting the Crease
Both of Montreal’s goals occurred from above the crease on one-timers. On both occasions the pass came from behind the net. The Penguins didn’t eliminate the centering pass on either score. On the first goal, Brooks Orpik picked up the man but Andrei Kostitsyn fought through the check. On the second goal, no one picked up Kostitsyn. 
Pascal Dupuis was a man possessed against the Habs. He was all over the ice, logging over 17 minutes of ice time. Dupuis scored one goal and added an assist for a two-point night. He also finished with a plus-1 rating. Dupuis’ goal wasn’t pretty - banking off the backboards and the goalie before cross the goal line - but counts just the same. His assist was simply a matter of great work along the boards. Dupuis won the puck battle and setup Sidney Crosby for the tying goal. It seemed every time he had the puck he took a shot. Dupuis finished with a game-high seven shots on goal - not counting the three shots he had blocked and two that just missed the goal.
Winger Andrei Kostitsyn returned to the Montreal lineup after missing two games and had an immediate impact, scoring the game’s opening goal 1:15 into the first period. Habs defenseman Josh Gorges took a slap shot from the far point that caromed off the boards behind the Pittsburgh net and Marc-Andre Fleury slid to the right post. Tomas Plekanec picked it up off the carom and wrapped back around the goal. Fleury couldn’t get his footing to slide back to the left post and Plekanec made a centering pass to Kostitsyn, who slammed the puck into the goal. Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0.

The Penguins tied the game with a big assist from the backboards. Pascal Dupuis took a shot on goal from the near circle. The shot missed the net but bounced off the backboards and into the crease. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price had dropped into the butterfly stance on the shot and the puck deflected off of his pads and into the net. He reached back desperately to grab it before it crossed the goal line but he was too late. Ryan Whitney recorded his first assist of the season on the goal. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 1.

Montreal reclaimed the lead with only 1.6 seconds left in the first period. Plekanec had the puck above the crease and Fleury dropped into the butterfly. Instead of shooting, Plekanec took the puck behind the net and Fleury scrambled to get back into position. Pittsburgh looked confused on its coverage and no one picked up Kostitsyn in the slot. Plekanec gave him the puck and Kostitsyn scored his second goal of the game on a play that was nearly identical to his first score. Montreal 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Sidney Crosby got his second goal in four games to tie the contest at 2-2. Pittsburgh’s top line of Miroslav Satan-Crosby-Dupuis were cycling the puck in the Montreal zone. Crosby was all alone behind the Habs’ net while Dupuis and Satan fought in the corner. Dupuis got the puck low to Crosby, who quickly went backhand-forehand and stuffed the puck into the net. Price came sliding over to get his pad on the post but Crosby got there first and used Price’s pad to deflect the puck into the net. It was a little redemption for Crosby, who was robbed of a goal by Price earlier in the period. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 2.

Kostitsyn recorded his first career hat trick with his third score of the game 2:21 into the third period to give Montreal a 3-2 lead. Kostitsyn entered the zone and nailed a slap shot that blew through Fleury’s legs for the go-ahead goal. Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 2.
The Penguins scratched forwards Mike Zigomanis and Eric Godard and defenseman Kris Letang. Godard was the only healthy scratch. Zigomanis hasn’t played since Dec. 3 and Letang has missed the previous three games. Both have undisclosed injuries.

Pascal Dupuis used his incredible speed to create a great scoring chance on a penalty kill. Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges couldn’t control a pass to him and Dupuis poked it free and out of the zone. Then Dupuis beat Gorges to the puck and had a semi-breakaway on goal but Carey Price was there for the save.

Sidney Crosby has had trouble scoring goals lately and he was absolutely robbed by Price early in the second period. Crosby was above the crease to Price’s left when Dupuis sent a shot on goal from the slot. Price made the save and the rebound came to Crosby, who had a large portion of net to shoot at. However, Price stuck out his left pad to prevent a goal. Crosby got even with Price a little bit later by notching his 15th goal of the season.

Fleury wasn’t happy with himself when he gave up the go-ahead goal to Montreal early in the third period. He picked up the puck late and the rubber sneaked between his legs. Fleury made up for that goal with a great save on a breakaway. With the Penguins on a power play, Maxim Lapierre stole the puck from Evgeni Malkin and took off. Fleury went for the poke check and slid to the ice. Lapierre tried to go high but Fleury managed sweep his left arm into the air and deflect the puck wide.

Pittsburgh had a golden opportunity to tie the game on two late power plays in the third period. Matt Cooke was setup for a perfect one-timer chance with Price out of position. However, the Montreal netminder slid all the way across his crease to get his left pad on the puck and deny the Penguins the tying goal.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 19-13-4 on the year, with an 8-6-2 mark at Mellon Arena.

> The Penguins outshot Montreal, 34-19, in the game. Pittsburgh is 9-3-1 when it outshoots its opponents.

> Andrei Kostitsyn scored the first goal of the game 1:15 into the first period. The Penguins tied it at 14:44 on Pascal Dupuis’ eighth goal of the season. Kostitsyn added his second goal of the night with 1.6 seconds left in the first period. Pittsburgh nodded the game up, 2-2, on Sidney Crosby’s 15th goal of the season at 5:51 of the second period. Montreal reclaimed the lead, 3-2, with Kostitsyn’s first career hat trick. His third score occurred at the 2:21 mark of the third frame.

> Evgeni Malkin was held scoreless but still leads the NHL in points with 59 (15G-44A). Malkin has eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points in his last 16 games. Malkin finished the game with a minus-1 rating. He currently has a plus-22 rating on the season, the second best mark in the NHL.

> Malkin’s 44 assists are a league best. Malkin is on pace for a 100-assist season. Only three players in NHL history have recorded 100-assist seasons (Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzkey and Bobby Orr).

> Sidney Crosby notched a goal and an assist for a two-point night against the Habs. Crosby has nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in his last 18 games. He is second in the league in scoring with 49 points (15G-34A). His 34 assists are second most in the league, behind only teammate Malkin’s 44.

> The Penguins have the top two scorers in the NHL in Malkin (15+44=59) and Crosby (15+34=49). The last time Pittsburgh had the top two scorers in the league was the 1995-96 season when Mario Lemieux (first) and Jaromir Jagr (second) topped the NHL. The team also had that distinction when Lemieux (first) and Kevin Stevens (second) did it in 1991-92.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 16 saves in a losing effort to the Habs. Fleury is 7-3-0 in his last 11 starts in goal.

> Ryan Whitney recorded an assist on Pittsburgh’s first goal against Montreal. It was his first point of the season in only his third game back from injury.

> Petr Sykora was scoreless against the Canadiens but he has 15 points in his last 12 games (7G-8A). In his past eight games, Sykora has five goals and six assists for 11 points.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 83rd straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,132.
1. Andrei Kostitsyn, MON
2. Tomas Plekanec, MON
3. Sidney Crosby, PIT
“I thought we deserved better. Carey Price was
outstanding and he stole the game.”
- Michel Therrien


Author: Sam Kasan

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