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Aftermath: Penguins 6, Canadiens 1

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins talked about wanting to get back to the basics against the Canadiens. Consider it mission accomplished. The forecheck that had worked so well through the first 10 games was back on Wednesday, forcing numerous turnovers in the Montreal end. Pittsburgh made Montreal pay for these mistakes, as Sidney Crosby’s opening goal and his hat trick score were set up by Montreal’s failure to clear their own zone.

Lost in all the scoring was the strong play between the pipes by Marc-Andre Fleury. Four nights after giving up four scores to the Devils, Fleury responded by stopping 23 of the 24 pucks thrown his way. The only time Montreal beat him was when they had a two-man advantage.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Sidney Crosby had his third career hat trick and the Pittsburgh Penguins became the first NHL team to reach 10 victories this season, snapping the Montreal Canadiens' four-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory Wednesday night.

Crosby, tied for fourth in the NHL with nine goals, had his third multiple-goal game in 12 starts this season for Pittsburgh (10-2-0).

Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz chat after Crosby's third goal of the game
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Power Play
The Penguins have answered questions about their power play all week and on this night they answered their critics by scoring twice in five chances. Alex Goligoski scored on a wrist shot at 10:50 of the third period and Chris Kunitz added a later score on a breakaway. It was the third time this season the Penguins have scored two or more times with the man-advantage.

What Could Have Gone Better: Faceoffs
The Penguins struggled in the dots against Montreal, winning only 25 of the 59 faceoffs (42%). Montreal was especially good on five-on-five draws, winning 65 percent. Sidney Crosby was a bright spot for the Penguins, going 16-8 draws (67%). Pittsburgh is now 8-1 when Crosby wins more draws than he loses.
The line of Sidney Crosby, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz was dominant from the get-go. As a trio they combined for four goals, six assists, 13 shots and a plus-9 rating. In addition to their offensive numbers, their efforts on the forecheck led to several forced Montreal turnovers, leading directly to two scores.

Crosby recorded his third career hat trick with 4:27 left to play in the second period, and only a couple great saves by Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price kept him from recording his first career four-goal game. Kunitz (1G-3A) tied careers highs with his three assists and four points. Guerin’s hard work earned himself a season-high three assists as well.
Great stick work by Chris Kunitz forced a turnover at the Montreal blue line. Kunitz then fought off three Canadiens for the loose puck, feeding a pass to Bill Guerin open on the left seam. Guerin passed over to a wide-open Sidney Crosby, whose one-timer beat goaltender Jaroslav Halak to the short side. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

Alex Goligoski fired a shot towards the net that was deflected off the post by Guerin on the way in. Kunitz saw his rebound attempt stoned by Halak, but Crosby was there to clean up the garbage, with his turning backhander landing in the back of the net. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 0.

On a delayed penalty call against the Canadiens, Mike Rupp increased the Penguins’ lead to 3-0. Mark Eaton fired a wrist shot from the center point that Halak got a piece of, but Rupp was right there on his doorstep to poke the loose puck through his legs. Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 0.

Crosby completed his hat trick at 15:33 of the second period after Brooks Orpik kept the play alive in the Montreal zone. Kunitz picked up the puck and delivered to Crosby standing behind Hall Gill. Crosby’s acrobatic move from in tight was stopped by Halak, but the rebound came off Crosby’s left skate and drifted under Halak. Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 0.

A two-man advantage allowed Montreal to get on the board early in the third period. Scott Gomez’s pass to Brian Gionta on the doorstep deflected off his stick but landed right onto the blade of Tomas Plekanec in front. His wrist shot went over the glove of Fleury for the score. Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 1.

Goligoski scored the Penguins’ first power-play tally of the night when he fired a hard wrist shot through a screen that included Crosby and Guerin in front of Carey Price. The traffic kept Price from ever seeing the shot, as Evgeni Malkin and Guerin picked up the assists. Pittsburgh 5, Montreal 1.

Chris Kunitz scored his first goal of the season with 3:29 remaining in regulation to cap the scoring. Chris Bourque chipped a loose puck from the Penguins’ blue line ahead, springing Kunitz behind the defense. He went five-hole on Price for the power-play score. Penguins 6, Montreal 1.
Forward Mike Rupp continues to take advantage of the shifts he receives with Evgeni Malkin, scoring again when the two were reunited during a delayed penalty situation at 7:02 of the second period. Rupp shoved a Mark Eaton rebound under the legs of netminder Jaroslav Halak. With three goals through the early going, two of which have been assisted by Malkin, Rupp is halfway to his career high of six goals, achieved twice previously (2003-04 with New Jersey and Phoenix and, 2006-07 with the Devils).

The Penguins’ Quebec-born players always enjoy playing the team from their home province. Tonight was no different as the trio of French-Canadians dressed by the Penguins all had successful nights. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury improved to 7-5-1 all-time against the Canadiens by stopping 23 of 24 shots. He has now won three in a row against Montreal. Pascal Dupuis, who missed two practices earlier in the week with the flu, created great chances all night with his speed, including a glorious first-period chance while the Penguins were shorthanded. Defenseman Kris Letang led the Penguins in ice time at 23:46 and was a plus-1 with two blocked shots.

Tonight marked the first time in 2009-10 the Penguins had to face a former teammate who helped them capture the Stanley Cup back in June as Hal Gill returned to Mellon Arena. Gill played 20:29, had one blocked shot and was twice sent to the penalty box. He was the closest defender when Sidney Crosby got behind the Montreal defense and scored his hat trick goal.

Recently named the NHL’s ‘Second Star’ for the week ending Oct. 25, Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri was riding a five-game point streak entering the night. The Penguins did a great job defending Cammalleri and his linemates, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez, holding them to a combined two points, assist recorded when the Canadiens were up by two men. Cammalleri was not only held off the score sheet, but also held without a shot while registering two giveaways.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S. Crosby (7), 8:33 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 0
PIT, S. Crosby (8), 5:08  2nd period: Penguins 2, Canadiens 0
PIT, M. Rupp (3), 12:58 2nd period: Penguins 3, Canadiens 0
PIT, S. Crosby (9), 15:33 2nd period: Penguins 4, Canadiens 0
MON, T. Plekanec (3), 5:39 3rd period: Penguins 4, Canadiens 1
PIT, A. Goligoski (4), 10:50 3rd period: Penguins 5, Canadiens 1
PIT, C. Kunitz (1), 16:31 3rd period: Penguins 6, Canadiens 1

> The Penguins head to the road on Friday night when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena for a 7:00 p.m. faceoff. The Penguins have already established a franchise record by winning their first five contests away from home to being a season, and will be looking to increase their road mark to 6-0.

> After playing five consecutive games on home ice the Penguins will play five of their next six and nine of the next 14 games away from Mellon Arena.

> Tonight marked the 125th consecutive sellout at Mellon Arena, including postseason, extending a franchise record that began in the 2006-07 season. The Penguins have sold out every regular and postseason game the past two seasons.

> The Penguins are now 28-5-4 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 15-3-1 at Mellon Arena.

> Since Bylsma took over on Feb. 14, 2009 the Penguins have never lost back-to-back games in regulation. The only time the Penguins have not picked up points in two-consecutive games under Bylsma occurred when they lost in overtime at Carolina on April 4 and then suffered a 4-2 regulation setback the next night in Florida.

> The Penguins 6-1 win over Montreal gives them 10 wins in the month of October, extending their club record for victories in the opening month.

> Sidney Crosby’s three goals was his third career hat trick. His first occurred against the Philadelphia Flyers three years to the day on Oct. 28, 2006. He also scored three goals against the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 29, 2008.

> With his three goals, Crosby extended his season-high points streak to five games. He has 11 points (5G-6A) during the streak.

> Crosby tied a career high with his nine shots on goal, a mark he has hit twice previously, most recently on Dec. 13, 2007 against the Ottawa Senators.

> Alex Goligoski extended his points streak to six games with his goal and assist. During the stretch Goligoski has recorded seven points (3G-4A).

> Goligoski’s goal gives him 11 points on the season (4G-7A), most by any Penguins’ defenseman, and keeping him near the top of the defensive leaderboard.

> Evgeni Malkin’s assist gives him 199 for his career, leaving him one short of 200.

> The Penguins are now 9-0 in ’09-10 when Malkin records a point.

> Bill Guerin’s three assists tonight give him 820 career points, allowing his to surpass former Penguin John LeClair (819) to move into seventh place on the all-time scoring list among American-born players in the 400/400 club.

> Guerin also played in his 1,197th career game against the Canadiens, leaving him three shy of 1,200 for his career. Barring injury, Guerin should reach this mark when the Penguins visit Anaheim on Nov. 3.

> Winger Chris Bourque picked up his first career NHL assist when he helped set up Chris Kunitz’s score in the third period. It was also Bourque’s first point as a Penguin.
“I think the great part about it was the way they got the goals, created turnovers with positioning, work and battle level and using their skill right after that to attack and go to the net.”
- Dan Bylsma


Author: Jason Seidling

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