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Aftermath: Canadiens 4, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
The Penguins fell behind the Montreal Canadiens and couldn’t mount one of their early-season signature comebacks. The Canadiens dictated the majority of the play and possessed the puck by an overwhelming margin to secure the victory.

The loss means that the Penguins grabbed only one of a possible six points on their three-game road stretch. Pittsburgh will now begin a four-game home stand that could make or break its postseason hopes.

If the Penguins can get five points from the home stand then they’ll be in a good position to make a run. If Pittsburgh gets anything less than five points, the situation could become dire - if it isn’t already.

The Penguins must turn their attention to Wednesday’s contest with the Tampa Bay Lightning. With games against Columbus, Detroit and San Jose looming ahead, Pittsburgh HAS to get two points against the Lightning. Anything less than two points and the playoffs will be on life support.
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) - Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre scored second-period goals and Andrei Kostitsyn scored with 4:15 left to seal the Montreal Canadiens' 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

Roman Hamrlik scored in the first period and assisted on Lapierre's goal 15:07 into the second, the third straight goal by Montreal, which took a 3-1 lead.

Evgeni Malkin drew Pittsburgh within 3-2 midway through the third when he scored for the third game in a row for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

Luca Caputi played physical in his first career NHL game (photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Didn't Work:Shooting the Puck
The Penguins passed up a number of great scoring opportunities trying to make the perfect pass. Pittsburgh created a lot of chances with good work down low but didn’t get the puck to the net to convert those opportunities, thus wasting its efforts. The Penguins finished with 25 shots in the game but 11 of those occurred in the third period when the team was desperate. 
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Luca Caputi made his presence felt on his first career shift. The rookie, making his NHL debut, netted his first goal right off the bench. He went strong to the net and buried a rebound in a scrum in front of the Montreal goal. Caputi was rewarded for his energy and effort with some power-play minutes. He saw action on the Penguins’ second line, with Jordan Staal and Petr Sykora, and with Sykora and Evgeni Malkin in the third period. Caputi finished the game with four shots in over 15 minutes of ice time.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
Luca Caputi did his best Mario Lemieux impersonation in his NHL debut. The rookie scored his first career goal on his first shift of the game. Caputi picked up a soft dump in the Montreal zone in the far corner. He skated it hard to the net and a scrum ensued in front of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. The puck was loose in the crease when Caputi, while on his knees, batted in his first score. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

The Canadiens used a Pittsburgh miscue to tie the game in the first period. Marc-Andre Fleury played the puck behind his net but didn’t move it quick enough. Sergei Kostitsyn stole the puck from the netminder and threw a quick pass into the high slot. Roman Hamrlik was able to bat a one-timer into the goal with Fleury desperately sliding into position. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 1.

The Canadiens tallied a short-handed score in the second period to take the lead. Sidney Crosby entered the Montreal zone when the puck was poked off of his stick. Kris Letang misplayed the puck at the blue line and Christopher Higgins had a clear charge to the Penguins net. Higgins didn’t make a move on goal - opting instead to release a wrist shot from between the circles and caught Fleury off guard. Montreal 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Ryan Whitney attempted to clear the puck from his zone off the boards. Hamrlik kept the puck in the zone and threw it behind the net with Whitney along the wall. Max Pacioretty collected the puck behind the net and made a centering feed. Maxim Lapierre was atop the crease and slammed the puck across the goal line. Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 1.

The Penguins made it a one-goal game halfway through the third period with a power-play score. Alex Goligoski did a great job of keeping a clearing attempt in the Montreal zone on his backhand on the near wall. He then flipped the puck down to Evgeni Malkin. Malkin glided into the near circle and whipped a shot between the pads of Price. Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 2.

The Canadiens upped their advantage on Andre Kostitsyn’s fourth goal against the Penguins this season. The Canadiens used some brilliant passing to setup the score. Tomas Plekanec made a cross-ice pass to Alex Kovalev. The former Penguin made an immediate pass back across the ice to Kostitsyn. Fleury managed to reach back to get the paddle on Kostitsyn’s initial shot. However, Kostitsyn pushed in the puck over the line on his second opportunity. Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 2.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
Maxime Talbot deserved credit for Pittsburgh’s second goal. Talbot was agitating the Canadiens the entire third period. He was even stirring things up before the puck was dropped to start the period. His effort paid off when he drew a hooking penalty on Tom Kostopoulos. The Penguins scored on the ensuing power play.

Luca Caputi became the fourth player on the Penguins’ current roster to score a goal in his first career NHL game. The three other players to do so are Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis and Mike Zigomanis.
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh dropped to 24-23-5 on the year, with a 12-12-3 mark on the road.

> PIT, L.Caputi (1), 2:30 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 0.
MTL, R.Hamrlik (3), 4:31 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 1.
MTL, C.Higgins SH (7), 11:05 2nd period: Canadiens 2, Penguins 1.
MTL, M.Lapierre (10), 15:07 2nd period: Canadiens 3, Penguins 1.
PIT, E.Malkin PP (22), 10:33 3rd period: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2.
MTL, A.Kostitsyn (18), 15:45 3rd period: Canadiens 4, Penguins 2.

> Evgeni Malkin tallied an assist against the Habs to extend his NHL lead in points to 76 (22G-54A). Malkin’s 54 assists are a league best. In his last 12 games, Malkin has collected seven goals and nine assists for 16 points.

> Malkin is riding a five-game scoring streak with four goals and three assists for seven points in that stretch. He’s notched a point in nine of his last 10 games.

> Sidney Crosby was held scoreless against Montreal. He is still second in the league in scoring with 68 points (20G-48A) and his 48 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 54. Crosby has at least one point in nine of his last 11 games, posting five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in that span.

> The Penguins have the top two scorers in the NHL in Malkin (22+54=76) and Crosby (20+48=68). 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 31 saves in the losing effort.

> Luca Caputi made his NHL debut against the Canadiens. He also scored his first career goal on his first shift of the game.

> Pittsburgh native Bill Thomas notched his first point as a Penguin with an assist against Montreal.

> Rob Scuderi tallied an assist to give him 12 points (1G-11A) this season - a new single-season career high.
 
THREE STARS QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
   
1. Roman Hamrlik, MTL
2. Max Pacioretty, MTL
3. Sidney Crosby, PIT
“We got stuck playing catch up. You can’t always
play from behind. We came hard in the third but
it was a little too late.”
- Sidney Crosby told FSN Pittsburgh
 

 

Author: Sam Kasan

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