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Aftermath: Penguins 5, Canadiens 2

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Following the Penguins morning skate on Wednesday, the team had to face a multitude of questions on how they would continue to deal with the absence of captain and leading scorer Sidney Crosby. Their emphatic 5-2 victory over Montreal on Wednesday couldn’t have been a better answer.

A determined Penguins squad got contributions from up and down the lineup. Jordan Staal had a goal and two assists, Alex Goligoski scored two goals and Tyler Kennedy tallied after scoring just one goal through his previous 16 contests. The players who didn't get on the scoresheet played hard and fast away from the puck.

The Penguins played exactly how head coach Dan Bylsma wanted them to play. They established a net-front presence in front of Habs goalie Carey Price, scoring garbage goals and not straying from their system.

Of course, it helped that the Penguins’ power play exploded for four goals on six opportunities against what had been the NHL’s No. 1-ranked penalty kill unit entering the game. But the Penguins got those power plays because they never stopped battling the entire night, frustrating the Canadiens as the game wore on and forcing them to take penalties.

Although Pittsburgh got off to a good start when Alex Goligoski scored with 7:03 left in the first, they had a bit of a scare when the Canadiens scored just 18 seconds later off the ensuing faceoff to tie the game 1-1. But the floodgates opened in the second period, as both teams came out flying in the middle frame and earned a multitude of exciting scoring chances.  It looked like the playoffs all over again, with the momentum wildly swinging back and forth in what was a goaltenders duel. But in the end, the Penguins’ heart and resiliency gave them the edge over the Canadiens, especially in the third.

The Penguins held a precarious 3-2 lead entering the final frame thanks to a power-play goal by Staal with 10.9 seconds left in the second. But the Penguins dominated the final 20 minutes, scoring two goals to cement the lead and outshooting the Habs by a margin of 13-7.

The Habs got spectacular goaltending from Price, but so did the Penguins from Marc-Andre Fleury. He was sharp from the get-go and came up with the big saves when necessary, making 20 stops and giving his team a chance to win.
Jordan Staal
Battling against the best hockey players in the world night in and night out is hard enough when you’re in prime condition. It’s even tougher when you’re trying to adjust to the speed and physical play of the National Hockey League in just your sixth game back after missing the first 39 contests of the season due to injury, like Penguins center Jordan Staal.

To top it off, Staal has had to adapt an expanded role almost immediately upon his return, logging a lot of minutes with fellow center Sidney Crosby being sidelined with a mild concussion.

But tonight, Staal looked more comfortable than ever out on the ice, especially being reunited with linemates Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.

After being held pointless through his first five games back, the Penguins center scored his first three points of the 2010-11 season -- a goal and two assists -- to propel Pittsburgh past Montreal. All three of his points came with the man-advantage.

He scored with just 10.9 seconds left in the second period to give the Penguins a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. While camping out in the circle while the Penguins were on the power play thanks to a too-many-men penalty by the Canadiens, he received a puck that he one-timed shortside past a stunned Carey Price to put Pittsburgh up 3-2.

Not only did Staal chip in offensively, but he used his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to his advantage, throwing a team-leading six hits and planting himself in front of Habs goalie Carey Price whenever he got the chance. It’s what led to Alex Goligoski’s goal that put the Penguins up 4-2 – Staal directed a puck to the Penguins defenseman while posted up in front of the Montreal net to earn the helper.

Staal, who is revered for his two-way play and defensive ability, is a stalwart on the Penguins penalty kill. But tonight, he saw 5:15 of ice time on the power play with Crosby's absence.
The Penguins had let their 1-0 lead slip away just 18 seconds after gaining it in the first period. Then PK Subban’s shot from the point deflected off David Descharnais’ stick and past a surprised Fleury to give the Habs a 2-1 lead just over three minutes into the second. The memories of the Penguins’ defensive collapse on Monday were beginning to rise to the surface, especially as play split wide open for the majority of the period. Both teams had a number of quality scoring chances and the momentum seemed poised to go either way.

That's when the Penguins managed to tie it up again on Tyler Kennedy’s power-play goal just over four minutes into the period. Then with just 10.9 seconds remaining, Jordan Staal scored his first goal of the season to put the Penguins up, 3-2.

He blasted a shot from the faceoff dot that flew so fast Price didn’t even have time to react. The power-play goal effectively took the wind out of Montreal’s sails, and the Penguins entered the final intermission with a lead they would never relinquish, going on to score two more goals in the third for the 5-2 win.
MONTREAL (AP) - Alex Goligoski scored twice and added an assist, and the Pittsburgh Penguins scored four power-play goals to end a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal scored with the man advantage in the second period to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead. Goligoski, who opened the scoring at even strength in the first, and Chris Kunitz added power-play goals in the third.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 20 saves for the Penguins, who won without Sidney Crosby in the lineup for the first time since their captain was sidelined by a concussion six days ago.

David Desharnais scored his first NHL goal to give Montreal a shortlived 2-1 lead early in the second. Tomas Plekanec scored his 13th to tie it at 1-1 at 13:15 of the first, just 18 seconds after Goligoski opened the scoring with his first goal of the game.

Carey Price stopped 31 shots for the Canadiens, who ended a three-game winning streak that began with a 2-1 shootout victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday.
• Alex Goligoski came close to recording his first-career hat trick. The Penguins defenseman had an absolutely phenomenal outing, scoring two goals and adding an assist in the victory. Goligoski quarterbacked Pittsburgh’s unstoppable power play, with his rocket of a shot and keen hockey sense playing a huge role in the team’s four man-advantage tallies. His first goal, scored at even-strength, opened the scoring with 7:03 left in the first and got the Penguins off to a fast start.

Tyler Kennedy scored the game-tying goal on a textbook play at the 4:12 mark of the second. Jordan Staal cleanly won the faceoff in the Montreal zone back to Kris Letang, who sent a perfect pass for Kennedy to one-time past Price. Prior to Wednesday’s game, he had notched just one goal through his previous 16 contests. The goal was also his first power-play goal of the season.

Kris Letang was originally credited with the Penguins’ last goal, scored on the power play with 8:31 left to play in the third. However, the goal was later awarded to Chris Kunitz after it was determined that the Penguins forward had re-directed the puck past Price while battling in front of the net. Letang instead got an assist on the play, giving him three on the night. His 33 helpers lead all NHL defensemen.

• The Penguins won without Sidney Crosby in the lineup for the first time since he was sidelined one week ago with a mild concussion. The Penguins are now 22-12-8 all-time with Crosby out of the lineup.

• Letang and Evgeni Malkin each registed exactly 9:19 of time on the power play. Malkin paced the Penguins with a total of seven shots.
#1. Jordan Staal
  Center - 11
1 goal
2 assists
6 hits
#2. David Desharnais
  Forward - 58
1st NHL goal
plus-1 rating
  16:09 TOI
#3. Kris Letang
  Defenseman - 58
3 assists
4 blocked shots
26:05 TOI

Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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