Montreal Canadiens 4 Pittsurgh Penguins 0
The Penguins take from PensBurgh
After going 3-0-1 in his last four games, and winning his last start in Montreal, Marc-Andre Fleury found himself playing with a Pittsburgh Penguins team that didn't show up. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both gone for the season the Penguins goaltender has been called on to keep the Penguins near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Occasionally Fleury will need some help, and he didn't get it Saturday afternoon.
Turnovers and weak man-to-man coverage led to three goals by the Montreal Canadiens, chasing him from the net before the second period was half over. It was an effort by coach Dan Bylsma to wake up his team. It didn't work.
The Canadiens, coming off Thursday's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, didn't have that problem thanks to the play of Carey Price, who backstopped his team to a 3-0 win.
The Habs netminder recorded his league leading eighth career shutout, making 26 saves on the afternoon. Price certainly was kept busy as a total of 37 shot attempts were either blocked or missed the net.
"Carey made some big saves," said Canadiens rearguard Paul Mara. "We played strong defensively and got the two points."
Price becomes the first Habs goaltender since Ken Dryden to record eight shutouts in a season. It's unlikely that his whitewash was a tribute to Mr. Dryden's brilliant piece in the Globe and Mail.
But if dinners are being bought tonight, Price might have to consider Hal Gill for this shutout-saving block.
Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring with just 46 seconds elapsed in the game. Left behind the Penguins defense, the Canadiens center took a slick pass from Mike Cammalleri to beat Fleury.
Travis Moen, gave the Canadiens a two-goal lead, at the 24 second mark of the second period, when the Penguins coughed the puck near the blue line. Scott Gomez and Brion Gionta then relayed the puck to the Saskatchewan native.
With a comfortable three goal lead, the Canadiens played an excellent shutdown defense on the road the rest of the way. Boring hockey? Yes absolutely, as two shots on goal on the third period attest to, but why take further risks in the offensive zone with guys like Matt Cooke and Michael Rupp out on the ice.
Cammalleri chased Fleury out, after yet another Pens turnover, and a terrific effort from Jefff Halpern, six and a half minutes later.
Cammalleri has eight goals in his last six games in Pittsburgh, including last season's playoffs.
The Penguins tried to get physical with the Canadiens, in an effort to change the momentum, as Mara and Maxime Talbot squared off. Cooke later took exception to a check from Yannick Weber, and wanted a piece of Ryan White who interjected in defence of his teammate. The tussle ended with P.K. Subban between Cooke and Rupp, and abruptly pulled to the ice by the latter.
The Canadiens return home, still maintaining a strong hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and host the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
Three Stars: 1. Carey Price 2. Mike Cammalleri 3. Tomas Plekanec
|00:46 MTL||Tomas Plekanec, 21 (Michael Cammalleri, 22) (MTL: 44 15 13 14 20 31 PIT: 7 4 14 29 48 11)|
|00:24 MTL||Travis Moen, 4 (Brian Gionta, 13 Scott Gomez, 27) (MTL: 44 11 21 32 20 31 PIT: 24 9 29 2 58 15)|
|06:51 MTL||Michael Cammalleri, 16 (Jeff Halpern, 14) (MTL: 44 15 13 14 20 31 PIT: 27 17 7 4 29 11)|