Penguins vs Canadiens coverage - Habs Eyes On The Prize
The Montreal Canadiens seemed content to let the Penguins fire shots off from all angles. The Pens put a barrage of 41 shots on Carey Price, whereas the Habs only got 21 pieces of rubber on Marc-Andre Fleury. Puck possession was another story. Pittsburgh cycled circles in the Montreal zone, a relentless attack that generated a lot of pressure. This can be partially illustrated in the total shots launched. The Penguins attempted 80 shots on goal (39 either got blocked or missed the target), compared to Montreal's total of just 46. When you have the puck in the zone, you work it and you try to shoot. That the Pens did this at almost a 2-1 rate shows the dominance.
Scoring was opened in the first period when, off of a cycling effort (told ya it was key), Bill Guerin flipped a beautiful cross-ice pass to Sergei Gonchar, who was pinching down as Penguin defensemen did all night long. Gonchar drilled it by a helpless Price.
Matt D'Agostini would get the equalizer in the second when he snapped a shot by Fleury. Less than three minutes later, the Habs would take an unlikely 2-1 lead when Roman Hamrlik unleashed a monster shot from afar on a screened Fleury. The goal was scored on a power-play, which is something that the Penguins apparently don't remember that you're allowed to score on those.
Before the period was over the Pens would tie it up, Matt Cooke deflected a Gonchar shot in to tie things up. Then, we see that when you go to the well enough, good things happen. Brooks Orpik threw an awesome stretch pass all the way up the ice for Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis ripped one of his patented slappers, and while Price got 38 of 41, he couldn't get that one.
Montreal would get another goal, if not for another quick whistle that negated a goal. Again, similiar to a situation last week against Colorado, an out of position referee thought Fleury had the puck and blew the whistle. This time it wasn't such a quick whistle, as the puck was tied up (though certaintly not covered) for a little bit which gave the ref reason to blow it dead.
- Sergei Gonchar had himself a night: one goal, one assist, six shots hurled at net on a team high of 25:26 of ice-time. A well deserved first star of the night.
- Power-play woes continue to dog the Pens. 0 for 5 tonight in another fruitless effort. Sometimes getting things set up is the problem, sometimes not. Sometimes inactivity seems to hurt, sometimes not. Often though, they're just not executing, as perplexing as it seems for a unit that boasts as much talent as they have.
- Brooks Orpik had a great night too; not enough can be said about the stretch pass he made to Dupuis on the game winner. He also ended up being a +3 on the night, which is a pretty good sign in a 3-2 game.
- The Habs tried to clog up the neutral zone the best they could, often times with only one half-hearted forechecker and four guys holding their real estate. It didn't seem to bother the Penguins, who had no problems dumping, chasing and doing some dirty work down low. It shows in the numbers when you see Tyler Kennedy (5 shots, 1 hit), Ruslan Fedotenko (4 shots, 1 hit), Matt Cooke (1 goal, 2 shots, 3 hits), Craig Adams (2 shots, 4 hits). The pluggers plugged away.
- Carey Price was almost the story of the game. He didn't have many idle moments when the Pens weren't pressing him. But his shaky glove hand betrayed him at the end.
So that's the game and another win on the road. The Habs and their fans were smarting over the quick whistle negating a goal, but the fact of the matter is they got out-worked and out-chanced all night and didn't really deserve to win the game.
Up next may be the ultimate trap game. Consider: The Pens embark on a home-and-home against their rivals the Flyers next week, but first they'll be playing in their blue jerseys against a feisty opponent that relishes playing against them in the Florida Panthers. Hopefully they bring the same effort they showed tonight in Montreal, they'll need it.