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Aftermath: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  
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QUICK ANALYSIS
 
Sometimes it may feel like a birthright for a Penguin to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. The organization is going to need to update its scoring champions banner at Mellon Arena as Evgeni Malkin, for all intents and purposes, became the fourth player in team history to win the coveted title Saturday night.

Finishing with 113 points on 35 goals and 78 assists, Malkin held off a late charge by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, who finished with 110 points (56G-54A), to claim his first career scoring title. The Penguins organization boasted the league’s scoring champion in 13 of the last 21 seasons with honors to Mario Lemieux (6), Jaromir Jagr (5), Sidney Crosby (1) and now Malkin (1). Malkin, who is only the second Russian to win the title, will have his named added to the banner as the Penguins organization continues to dominate the field.

On the ice, the Penguins pulled off another great 60-minute effort in their 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, locking up a first-round showdown with the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The only remaining question is where Game 1 will be played. With the victory over Montreal, Pittsburgh can still gain home-ice advantage.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are tied in points (99) but the Penguins win the tie-breaker over the Flyers. Philadelphia, however, has one remaining game to be played Sunday against the New York Rangers at 5 p.m. If the Flyers gain at least one point in the contest then the series will open in Philadelphia. But if the Rangers defeat the Flyers in regulation, Mellon Arena will host Game 1.

It’s unbelievable that just two months ago the Penguins were in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. With the 18-3-4 run under interim head coach Dan Bylsma, the Penguins now have a legitimate shot for the fourth seed. What a season!
 
WHAT HAPPENED
 
(AP) -Maxime Talbot and Kris Letang scored short-handed goals 55 seconds apart midway through the third period to send the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Evgeni Malkin, poised to claim his first NHL scoring title, increased his point total to 113 with his 35th goal 1:09 into the game for Pittsburgh. The Penguins will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs, with home-ice advantage to be determined Sunday when the Flyers host the New York Rangers. The teams are tied with 99 points, but Pittsburgh owns the tiebreaker because it has one more victory.
 
PLAYOFF CHASE
 
 
Pos. Team GP Record Pts
4. *Philadelphia 81 44-26-11 99
5. *Pittsburgh 82 45-28-9 99
6. *Carolina 82 45-30-7 97
7. *NY Rangers 81 42-30-9 93
8. *Montreal
82 41-30-11 93
9. X-Florida 82 41-30-11 93
10. X-Buffalo 82 41-32-9 91

                     
Remaining Schedules:
*NY Rangers: (1) - @ Philadelphia (Sun)
*Philadelphia: (1) - NY Rangers (Sun)

* - clinched playoff berth; X - eliminated from playoffs
 
SHOT OF THE NIGHT

The Penguins celebrate the game-winning shorthanded goal by Maxime Talbot on Carey Price
(photo by Getty)
ESSENTIALS
 
What Worked Well: Hey Shawty!
Not only did Pittsburgh’s penalty killers shutout Montreal on three power-play opportunities, but chipped in offensively as well. With the game tied at 1-1 in the third period, the Penguins converted two critical shorthanded tallies to prevail in the contest.

What Could Have Gone Better: SH Hat Trick
It’s remarkable that Pittsburgh scored two shorthanded goals but what’s more amazing is that the team was only inches away from scoring a third. Maxime Talbot batted an elevated puck into the net early in the game but the goal was waived off because Talbot’s stick was ruled to be above the crossbar. But Talbot was awarded for his efforts with a shorthanded tally in the third period.
 
DIFFERENCE MAKER
 
Pascal Dupuis played an inspired game for the Penguins, particularly while shorthanded. Not only did he set up the game-winning shorthanded goal, but nearly scored on two other occasions while killing penalties. He finished with three shots, a plus-1 rating and over 12 minutes of ice time.
 
SCORING SYNOPSIS
 
The NHL’s leading scorer netted a goal 1:09 into the game. Sergei Gonchar sent a snap shot on net from the midpoint. Evgeni Malkin picked up the rebound and deposited it across the goal line. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

Montreal tied the game late in the first period. Roman Hamrlik took a shot from above the near circle that deflected off of defenseman Hal Gill in front of the net and behind goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

The Penguins netted a shorthanded goal to retake the lead. Alex Kovalev had the puck on the far halfwall and tried to flip the puck back to defenseman Mathieu Schneider towards the midpoint. Schneider couldn’t reach the puck and dove for it. Pascal Dupuis grabbed the puck and skated up ice with Maxime Talbot. Dupuis backhand saucer passed the puck over the outreached stick of Schneider and to Talbot in the high slot. Talbot one-timed the shot into the net. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 1.

The Penguins scored a second shorthanded goal 55 seconds later on the same penalty kill. On this occasion Kris Letang skated the puck, unchecked, all the way to the far faceoff circle. Letang laid into a slap shot than blew past Carey Price. Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 1.
 
INTRIGUING NOTABLES
 
Philippe Boucher was in the lineup for the second straight game as Mark Eaton was given the night off to rest.

Miroslav Satan rejoined the team and will be on the Penguins’ playoff roster, although he did not play against the Habs. 
 
GAME NOTES
 
> Pittsburgh finished the 2008-09 season with a 45-28-9 record and a 20-15-6 mark at Mellon Arena. The Penguins were 17-2-3 in their last 21 games.

> Pittsburgh went 18-3-4 for 40 points after Dan Bylsma was named interim head coach. Bylsma tied a record for the best 25-game start in NHL history for a coach hired during a season, joining Bep Guidolin (20-5-0, 40 points) with Boston in 1972-73.

Bylsma’s 40 points also tied him for second all-time for any coach’s first 25 games, behind only Todd McLellan’s 43 points this season in San Jose.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, E.Malkin (35), 1:09 1st period: Penguins 1, Habs 0
MTL, R.Hamrlik (6), 17:29 1st period: Penguins 1, Habs 1
PIT, M.Talbot SH (12), 9:46 3rd period: Penguins 2, Habs 1
PIT, K.Letang SH (10), 10:41 3rd period: Penguins 3, Habs 1

> Evgeni Malkin notched a goal and won the NHL’s scoring title with 113 points (35G-78A). Malkin’s 113 points set a new career high (previously 106) and his 78 assists are a league-best and a new career high (59).

> Sidney Crosby went scoreless but finished third in the league in scoring with 103 points (33G-70A). His 70 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 78.

> The Penguins boasted two players with 100 or more points in one season in Malkin (113) and Crosby (103). It’s the seventh time in franchise history that more than one player has netted 100-plus points in the same season. The most recent occurrence was in 1995-96 when Mario Lemieux (161), Jaromir Jagr (149) and Ron Francis (119) accomplished the feat.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves to record his 35th victory of the season. His 35 wins are the second most in his career, third most in a season by a Penguin and sixth most (tied) in the NHL.

> Max Talbot scored his 10th career shorthanded goal and second of the season.

> Kris Letang tallied his first career shorthanded goal.

> Jordan Staal recorded an assist, setting a new career high with a six-game scoring streak totaling eight points (2G-6A).

> Ruslan Fedotenko notched an assist. He has points in six of his last seven games totaling 10 (3G-7A).
 
THREE STARS
 1. C.Price, MTL
2. K.Letang, PIT
3. P.Dupuis, PIT

 



Author: Sam Kasan

Author: Sam Kasan

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