Better Fortified Canadiens Surprise Penguins 3-1

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Mike Cammalleri continued his torrid pace with two goals, Jaroslav Halak was stellar and much better fortified, and rookie P.K. Subban played with the poise of a veteran as the Canadiens downed Crosby and company by a 3-1 score.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got a taste of the bitterfruit the Canadiens served the Capitals one week ago. Tightening up their defense and tuning their penalty kill to the Penguins forces, the Habs took away the middle ice and forced Pittsburgh to work in unaccustomed ways.

Again the Canadiens were desperately outshot, and they seemed as comfortable in the relative shutdown mode as they were in the previous round. In clogging the Penguin attack, the Canadiens frustrated the Penguins as the game wore on.

In the absence of defenseman Andrei Markov, rearguards Roman Hamrlik, Josh Gorges and Subban played in excess of twenty-three minutes each.

The Montreal penalty kill, horrendous against Pittsburgh in Game One, was a more composed and unified group in Game Two. Untested until the dying seconds of the middle period, the Habs started the third a man down, and killed off three successive penalties in what proved to be a game turning point.

The Penguins dominated the shots on goal counter, eclipsing the Canadiens 39-21. But again, as in the Washington series, the Habs made the most of the opportunites presented to them. Scott Gomez, with plenty of time behind the net, found Brian Gionta parked out front to tie the game at 1-1.

Seven minutes into the second period, with Brooks Orpik off for holding, Cammalleri batted a Gomez rebound past a startled Marc-Andre Fleury.

In a period in which Montreal were outshot 18-3, the Cammalleri marker helped the Canadiens retrieve fortress mode. From then on, the Canadiens settled in conservatively, and threw a spike into the Penguins spokes at every turn. A familiar script unfolded in which the Penguins were allowed the looks at Halak they did not prefer, but had to settle for what was being offered.

They'd best get used to composing with the Canadiens tactic the capsized the Capitals.

With three minutes left in the third period, the Penguins were pressing. Checking Crosby in mid ice, Tomas Plekanec cased a turnover, and fed Cammalleri for the insurance goal.

Among the reasons for the Canadiens success in this game was in part how they dealt with the absense of Markov in terms of their transition game. Knowing that the usual Markov outlet passes were not an option, the Montreal forwards played safe and worked deep in unison with the defenseman. The plan minimized turnovers and outmanned situations, and in comparison to Game One, Pittsburgh were forced to create more of their own breaks, rather than count on the Habs offering glaring mistakes.

In nine post season games, Montreal are now 5-4 against the Capitals and Penguins, with four of those wins on the road. They return home even in games, and poised to take advantage of home ice better than they did versus Washington.

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