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Aftermath: Penguins 2, Canadiens 0

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

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Game 3 unfolded exactly how a road game is supposed to unfold in the Stanley Cup playoffs – and the Penguins responded like the defending champions they are.

Pittsburgh had to weather an early storm as the Canadiens fed off their home crowd. Montreal outshot the Penguins, 7-3, in the opening frame, but one could argue that the Canadiens’ inability to capitalize on their momentum was the turning point in the game.

After the opening 20 minutes Pittsburgh took over just like they did in Game 2, outshooting the Canadiens over the final 40 minutes 21-11. However, as Pittsburgh owned the second period, holding a 13-3 shots advantage, Jaroslav Halak was again proving to be a brick wall in goal for Montreal.

Pittsburgh never got frustrated by their lack of scoring and instead kept plugging away, taking the lead for good 1:16 into the third period on an Evgeni Malkin power-play tally. Marc-Andre Fleury took over from there, stopping all eight shots he saw in the final frame, including three 10-bellers down the stretch, as he picked up his fourth career shutout. Pascal Dupuis added a late empty-net goal.

The Penguins will have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series when Game 4 commences at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. Pittsburgh is now 4-0 on the road during the 2010 postseason while Montreal is just 1-3 at Bell Centre.
MONTREAL – Pittsburgh said its plan in Game 3 was to survive an early surge by the Montreal Canadiens, who would be feeding off a rabid Bell Center crowd, and then set about the business of winning the game. The Penguins did just that, claiming a 2-0 victory on Tuesday night to take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Marc-Andre Fleury denies Tom Pyatt, one of his 18 saves in picking up the shutout
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Stepping into the Shooting Lane
The Penguins looked a bit like the Canadiens in Game 3 as they were making life miserable on the Montreal sharpshooters by stepping into shooting lanes and not allowing pucks to get through onto Marc-Andre Fleury. In total the Penguins blocked 18 shots, including seven from Brooks Orpik and six by Jordan Leopold, in addition to forcing the Canadiens to miss the net on 13 other occasions. Pittsburgh held Montreal to just 18 shots overall.

What Could Have Gone Better: First Period
If there is one trend the Penguins would like to reverse against the Canadiens it is getting off to slow starts in the first period. For the second straight contest it was the Canadiens who controlled the play early, although on this occasion the Penguins did well to not allow Montreal to score with the momentum they were generating. With how well the Penguins are playing in the last 40 minutes of games, if they can start the same way they can make their job a lot easier.
Marc-Andre Fleury takes home this honor after rising to the occasion when the Penguins needed him the most in Game 3. Montreal took it to the Penguins a bit in the first period, outshooting Pittsburgh, 7-3, as they took advantage of some home cooking. The Canadiens weren’t able to cash in on their chances as Fleury was solid between the net.

After seeing just three shots during the second period, Fleury was at his best following Evgeni Malkin’s opening goal 1:16 minutes into the third period. Among his eight saves in the final frame were a right-toe stop on Brian Gionta’s wrist shot from the slot at 10:24, a left-pad save on Mike Cammalleri’s one-timer from the right circle at 7:37 when Fleury flew across his crease from left to right and perhaps his best save at the 3:49 mark when he went into a split to deny a tic-tac-toe deflection off Tomas Plekanec’s stick from three feet away.

All told Fleury stopped 18 shots in picking up his fourth career postseason shutout, his first goose egg on the road and his first zero since May 18, 2008 when he blanked the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Mellon Arena.
The first two periods went by scoreless but the Penguins quickly broke the deadlock on a power play 1:16 into the third period. Sergei Gonchar set up Evgeni Malkin for a one-timer at the top of the right circle and Malkin unleashed a howitzer through the legs of Jaroslav Halak for his fifth goal of the playoffs and fourth on the man-advantage. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

Pascal Dupuis sealed the victory for Pittsburgh when he took a pass from Chris Kunitz at center ice and slid a shot from the red line into the empty cage with 15 seconds remaining in regulation. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 0.
Penguins rookie center Mark Letestu made his NHL postseason debut against the Canadiens in Game 3 as Bill Guerin was a late scratch from the lineup due to an undisclosed injury (day-to-day). Letestu, a 25-year-old Elk Point, Alberta native, skated on the third line between Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. Letestu, who scored once in 10 regular-season contests with Pittsburgh, saw 12:42 minutes of ice time and finished with two hits and two shots. He was a factor all night along with his linemates creating scoring chances down low below the goal line.

In addition to taking a 2-1 lead in the series, the Penguins also received good news on Tuesday morning when forward Jordan Staal briefly skated on his own for five minutes prior to the morning skate. Staal is currently listed as day-to-day after undergoing a procedure to repair a lacerated tendon on his foot. Click here to read more details and watch Staal skating.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, E. Malkin PP (5), 1:16 3rd period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 0
PIT, P. Dupuis EN (2), 19:45 3rd period: Penguins 2, Canadiens 0

> Pittsburgh takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. They will look to take a stranglehold on the series when Game 4 commences at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Bell Centre.

> The Penguins are now a perfect 4-0 on the road in the postseason. Pittsburgh is 16-10 away from Mellon Arena dating back to the 2008 playoffs.  

> Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season the Penguins have posted a robust 7-3-1 record at the Bell Centre.

> Pittsburgh improves to 9-1 in its past nine Game 3s. The Penguins are 6-1 in Game 3s on the road during that period.

> The Penguins are 21-24 all-time in Game 4s, including a 13-12 mark on the road. Pittsburgh has won five straight Game 4s, including last round, 7-4, against the Ottawa Senators.

> Head coach Dan Bylsma picked up his 22nd career postseason victory on Tuesday, tying him with Eddie Johnston for second place on the team’s all-time postseason wins list. A win in Game 4 on Thursday would allow Bylsma to tie Hall of Famer Scottie Bowman for the franchise record of 23 postseason wins.

> Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 18 saves he faced to pick up his fourth career postseason shutout. Fleury now has a 37-21 postseason record. Fleury’s last postseason shutout occurred on May 18, 2008 when he stopped 21 shots in a 6-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

> Evgeni Malkin scored the game-winning goal for the Penguins 1:16 into the third period. The goal was Malkin’s fourth power-play tally of the postseason, second most in the NHL behind San Jose’s Joe Pavelski (5).

> Sergei Gonchar picked up his seventh assist of the postseason, tied for the most among blueliners, on Malkin’s goal. Gonchar’s eight points (1G-7A) rank second (tied) among defensemen.

> Pascal Dupuis increased his scoring streak to four games (2G-3A) when he tallied into an empty net with 15 seconds remaining. Dupuis is tied with Alex Goligoski (1G-2A) for the team lead with three points in the series.

> Alex Goligoski’s assist on Malkin's goal gives him three points (1G-2A) against the Canadiens, tied with Dupuis for the team lead. Overall, Goligoski has six points (2G-4A) in nine postseason games this season.

> Chris Kunitz added an assist on the Dupuis goal, giving him points in six of Pittsburgh’s nine games for a total of eight (2G-6A).
1. M. Fleury
2. E. Malkin
3. B. Gionta
"We are really lucky to have him and
you know what, he made some big saves
and we wouldn't have got a win
without the way he played."

- Sidney Crosby on Marc-Andre Fleury

Author: Jason Seidling

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