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Pens vs. Canadiens Recap: St. Patric’s Day comes early in Pittsburgh win

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Patric Hornqvist scores two goals and adds an assist in a 5-3 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Montreal Canadiens.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

The Penguins are the same as last night, save a change in net with Tristan Jarry getting a chance between the pipes.

And here’s how Montreal looks tonight.

1st period

The Canadiens strike first with Artturi Lehkonen deflecting a point shot in for his 9th goal of the season to give Montreal a 1-0 lead just 3:15 into the game.

It gets worse when Jamie Oleksiak earns a trip to the box to pull down a Hab. The penalty kill doesn’t last long with a lot of defenders standing around (and Jarry failing to hold onto a fluttering puck with his glove) and Paul Byron having plenty of space from right in front to fire it in and make it 2-0 Montreal.

Pittsburgh finally gets a little life with Phil Kessel leading a 2-on-1 with Bryan Rust. Kessel passes to Rust but PING, it hits the post. One their very next shift, Derick Brassard makes a great steal of the puck and passes to Rust, who on the left wing feathers a beauty of a backhand pass to Kessel who quickly converts past former Penguin goalie Antti Niemi to bring the game to 2-1.

The Pens tie the game with some old fashioned work by Patric Hornqvist to chase down a bouncing puck and toss it towards Carl Hagelin. Before it could get there a Canadien defender knocks it in. Counts just the same. 2-2

Shots are 11-9 in the period in favor of the Pens (and 11-7 at 5v5). Scored tied at 2.

2nd period

Pittsburgh gets a power play chance early when Hornqvist is interfered with but despite some good zone time they are unable to score.

The Canadiens carry play for a while but don’t do much for it and then Pittsburgh gets another power play when Carl Hagelin uses his speed to push past Jeff Petry who has to body him up away from the puck.

Evgeni Malkin strikes quickly on that chance with his 40th goal of the season hammering a one timer from far out past Niemi and a 3-2 Pens lead.

This lead wasn’t slated to last long. Letang delays to set up a breakout but the only thing that develops is the Montreal forecheck. Hagelin comes over as a last ditch effort to help, but it’s not much a help and the puck kicks out to the middle of the ice for Nicolas Deslauriers coming down main street and plenty of ice and he scores on Jarry to tie the game at 3.

Shots end up a commanding 18-4 in the 2nd period in favor of the Pens. tough lukc that goals are 1-1 in the second frame and 3-3 overall.

3rd period

Patric Hornqvist puts the Pens back on top, this time to stay, by deflection an incoming shot.

The Habs pull their goalie and Hornqvist passes up to Rust who makes no mistakes (for once) and finishes it. 5-3

Some Thoughts

  • Really like the passes Letang delivers while on the power play. They’re always right in the wheelhouse for a shot when they need to be, like on the Malkin goal. Justin Schultz was on the early top PP group and too foten it seems players have to pull the puck out of their skates with his passes.
  • After falling behind 2-0 early it looked like the Pens were sluggish. Luckily they kept plugging away and were making a point to throw pucks on the goalie from every angle and as much as possible. Our guess is they knew who they were dealing with in Niemi and that he wouldn’t eventually crack and give up some goals.
  • Jarry for his part, ehh tough to judge since there were a couple defensive breakdowns but his play to bobble a puck was another bit of difficulty that he’s repeated in the past to have a chance and kill a play but be aunable to, only to see the puck end up in his net seconds later.
  • I see you with that green tie, Mike Sullivan. Nice Irish boy made good, let’s go (thumbs up).
  • It was interesting isolating on Conor Sheary tonight. He seemed to be trying to be more engaged than normal and looked to have a pretty good game. Sullivan must have thought so too since he kept Sheary on the Crosby line almost the whole game, which is a rarity these days. At the end protecting a one-goal lead Riley Sheahan was on Crosby’s wing.
  • Sheahan with Crosby late in a game to protect a lead is almost certainly something you can count on in the playoffs, especially if Sheahan is on the 4th line. Adds more defensive consciousness and is an extra faceoff option if Sid happens to get kicked out the circle.
  • Letang had another misadventure in the defensive zone but played a team-high 22:58, had two nice assists and ended up a +1. Watching Letang is to take the good with the bad this season and on this night there was more good than bad.
  • It was a well-deserved win. Corsi events at 5v5 were 59-39 Pens. Shots 35-19. The ice was tilted all night and even on the second end of a back-to-back Pittsburgh easily had enough energy and skill to carry play all night and eventually overwhelm what we know isn’t a very good goalie.

Now an oasis in the desert of the NHL season - 4 whole days between games! Should be a good chance for guys to rest up bumps and bruises and practice some skill aspects as the regular season enters the home stretch.