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Canadiens vs. Penguins Game Recap: Missed Opportunities

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The Canadiens lost 4-1, with missed chances haunting them

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens looked to bounce back against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but in the end were they unable to take advantage of their early opportunities.

Phillip Danault created the first great scoring chance of the game when he skated past a Penguins defender and sent a pass intended for Andrew Shaw at Matt Murray's crease.

Murray had to stretch himself in his crease to protect his net from Shaw's deflection.

As Montreal was playing another strong shift in the Penguins' zone, Shea Weber used his strong slapshot to give the Canadiens another good scoring chance, but it hit the outside of the post. Torrey Mitchell also got a great chance, finding himself open in the slot. The pass came to him, but he missed the puck in a spectacular fashion during his one-time attempt.

Ian Cole opened the scoring when his wrist shot made it past Price, who was unable to react due to the bodies in front.

Shortly thereafter Danault created another good chance as he forced a turnover in the Penguins' zone and passed it to Paul Byron, who stationed himself right in front of the net, but Byron tried to send the puck to Shaw, who could not control the pass and the puck went wide.

The Canadiens finished the first period in force, with several high-quality shots, but it would end with the Penguins still up 1-0.

The Penguins' fourth line showed great chemistry and playmaking, putting the Penguins up 2-0 in the second. It started with Scott Wilson behind the net passing it to Chris Kunitz, who gave it to Eric Fehr. Fehr had ample time to beat Price.

That line continued being effective against the Canadiens, consistently applying pressure in the offensive zone and making it difficult for the Habs skaters to make quick changes.

After seeing that his team was having difficulty creating offence in the second period, Michel Therrien turned on the blender; he put Byron back on the top line while playing Pacioretty alongside Danault and Shaw.

Pittsburgh's depth forwards continued the damage against the Habs, as Jake Guentzel deflected Cameron Gaunce's shot. Guentzel evaded Montreal's defensive coverage to find the space to score the goal.

Sven Andrighetto finally put the Canadiens on the scoreboard as he succeeded on the wraparound attempt. The puck hit Murray's stick and went through the five-hole as the Habs were able to get the goal back, ending the second period at a 3-1 score in favour of Pittsburgh.

Shaw got two good scoring chances on the same shift in the third period, including out-muscling Justin Schultz in front of the Penguins net, but he was unable to move around Murray as the goaltender swallowed up the backhand shot.

The boos from the home crowd started to creep in when the Canadiens were unable to establish themselves in the offensive zone, constantly losing the puck as the Penguins shot it down the ice. It was indicative of the Habs' entire night, as they continued to be unable to get pucks on net.

The tough defensive night would continue, when Olli Maatta put Pittsburgh up 4-1. The Penguins made it seem like child's play as they passed the puck around with little resistance before Maatta slipped a weak one behind Price.

The game ended quietly, as it seemed that the Penguins were comfortable with their lead while the Canadiens lost their will to finish the game strong.

Thoughts

  • It seemed to me that all those missed chances early in the game by the Canadiens distracted and discouraged them. Both teams' quantity of shot attempts were close, but the Habs were unable to break through the Penguins' defence often enough to get shots in close.
  • The Canadiens gave the Penguins too much room out on the ice. Montreal's defensive coverage left much to be desired, and it resulted in the Canadiens giving up shots or deflections at close range, helping the Penguins' offence.
  • The Penguins' depth forwards did some major damage as they outplayed and outsmarted the Canadiens. They were superior in the puck battles along the boards, and they rewarded themselves by pitching in on a couple of goals.