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Aftermath: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Video: Game Highlights 
Photo Gallery: Pens 3, Habs 1
Blog: Pens vs. Habs Game Blog
Pittsburgh executed its game plan to near perfection against Montreal. The Penguins played the type of game head coach Dan Bylsma demands – namely, they got the puck into the offensive zone, won puck battles, maintained possession, generated chances and attacked, attacked, attacked.

The depth and physical play of the Penguins wore down an injury riddled and tired Montreal team (the Canadiens played the night before in Columbus). Pittsburgh pulled out a 3-1 victory but the score was not indicative of a game in which the Penguins were in complete control.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby scored a goal and set up another with a no-look pass and the Pittsburgh Penguins matched a franchise record for most victories in their first 25 games with 17, beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Bill Guerin makes a deke move before stuffing home the game-winning score
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Offensive Muscle
The Penguins third and fourth lines did an incredible job of providing offensive zone pressure and a grinding attack. The big bodies and physical play of Mike Rupp, Jordan Staal, Eric Godard and Matt Cooke (Ok Cooke is not a big body but he is a physical player) were able to outwork and out muscle the Canadiens. Those four combined for 17 hits, including nine by Rupp alone. As a result, Montreal struggled at getting the puck out of their zone and by the third period, the Canadiens had depleted their energy stock.

What Could Have Gone Better: Shutout

I don’t know what the numbers are but I have a feeling Marc-Andre Fleury has more one-goal games against than any other netminder in the league. Fleury was spectacular in net, flashing his glove and sliding side-to-side while protecting the Penguins’ net. However, Fleury’s shutout bid was ended when the Canadiens netted a goal in the third period. Though he didn’t pin a fat 0 on Montreal, Fleury no doubt deserved it.
Sidney Crosby displayed one of his finest performances of the season. Crosby opened the scoring with a perfectly placed shot over the shoulder of goaltender Carey Price in the first period. His speed burst also helped him set up Sergei Gonchar for a goal. He finished the game with two points, two hits and two shots. 

But Crosby’s hustle and reaction time led to several other great chances. He had a breakaway chance after outracing the Canadiens to a loose puck in the neutral zone (his shot sailed just high over the crossbar). A great Crosby takeaway led to a Max Talbot chance above the paint. Crosby also made a fantastic play, taking a wide pass by kicking the puck from his skate to his stick for another opportunity in front of the net.
The Penguins got on the board first halfway through the opening period thanks to a beautiful shot by captain Sidney Crosby. Crosby carried the puck over the blue line to the top of the far circle. He ripped a shot, using Montreal defenseman Paul Mara as a screen, over the left shoulder of netminder Carey Price. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

Pittsburgh extended its lead in the second period with a goal following a power play. The Canadiens killed the penalty but never got the puck out of the zone. Evgeni Malkin avoided a check by Ryan O’Byrne, slithering under the Canadien in the near corner. He then pushed the puck to Bill Guerin, who deked around Roman Hamrlik before stuffing the puck through Price and over the goal line. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 0.

Sergei Gonchar scored his third goal of the season as Pittsburgh added on to its lead with a late second-period tally. Crosby carried the puck down the left, pulled up and found Gonchar in the slot. Gonchar slid a backhander through Price’s five-hole. Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 0.

The Canadiens ended Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout bid with a goal seven minutes into the third period. Max Pacioretty tallied the goal for Montreal with a nice snap shot. Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 1.
The Penguins brought back an old rush play off of a faceoff win. With a draw by the Montreal blueline, Evgeni Malkin lined up on the opposite side of the ice in a defensive posture near his own blue line. As the puck dropped, Malkin sprinted forward. Crosby won the draw and the Penguins quickly worked the puck to a streaking Malkin, who entered the zone at full speed. Pittsburgh has used that play in the past and it has proven to be a great way to generate a scoring chance, and at the least to gain the offensive zone.

Marc-Andre Fleury made the save of the game halfway through the third period. Pittsburgh led 3-1 and was on a power play but Montreal gained the offensive zone on a rush. The Canadiens found Ryan O’Byrne all alone in the slot. However, his shot was snatched by Fleury’s glove. A goal by the Canadiens could have flipped the momentum but Fleury was there to smother their hopes.
> Pittsburgh improved to 17-8 on the season with an 8-4 mark at Mellon Arena. The team's 17 wins are the most in the NHL.

> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S.Crosby (12), 9:21 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 0
PIT, B.Guerin (6), 6:41 2nd period: Penguins 2, Canadiens 0
PIT, S.Gonchar (3), 16:56 3rd period: Penguins 3, Canadiens 0
MON, M.Pacioretty, 7:17 3rd period: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1

> The Penguins have won three straight games and five of their past six contests.

> The Penguins tied a franchise record with 17 wins through their first 25 games of a season (1994-95, 17-6-2; 1995-96, 17-5-3).

> The Penguins are now 35-11-4 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 18-5-1 at Mellon Arena.

> Pittsburgh improved to 12-2 this season when scoring first and 26-2-2 all time under Bylsma.

> The Penguins are 13-2 when registering 30 or more shots in a game this season.

> Sidney Crosby tallied a goal and an assist for a two-point night against the Canadiens. Crosby has nine points (3G-6A) in his last seven games. With his assist against Montreal, Crosby moved into sole possession of 10th place on the team’s all-time list with 279 assists at just 22 years of age.

> Malkin extended his current scoring streak to four games with an assist against Montreal. In the past four games, Malkin has two goals and three assists. Malkin has eight points (2G-6A) in six games since returning from a shoulder strain.

> Max Talbot posted his first point of the season with an assist. Talbot missed the first 21 games of the season following offseason shoulder surgery.

> Martin Skoula, with an assist against the Canadiens, has a three-game scoring streak, totaling four points (2G-2A).

> Bill Guerin tallied a goal against Montreal. He has points in five of his last six games, netting a total of five points (3G-2A).

> Jordan Staal has points in five of his last six games. During that time, he’s collected six points (2G-4A). Staal also won 10 of 15 faceoffs in the contest.

> Mike Rupp recorded a game-high nine hits.
1. S.Crosby
2. B.Guerin
3. J.Staal
"You sometimes have to give it an extra poke.”
- Bill Guerin on his game-winning goal


Author: Sam Kasan

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