After learning that they will be without defenseman Josh Gorges for the rest of the season due to knee surgery, the Habs welcomed the "Crosbyless" Pittsburgh Penguins to the Bell Center. The first period began with multitude of broken plays that lead to back to back icings by both teams. With the face-off in Montreal’s zone after the second icing call, Pittsburgh took advantage for the first goal of the game. Alex Goligoski took a point shot which Carey Price stopped with his left pad but Arron Asham was on the door step and made no mistake popping in the short rebound. With the Pens taking the early lead the Habs attempted to fight back. First Benoit Pouliot took a good shot while in the slot only to see his shot blocked and trickle away into the corner. On the next shift Travis Moen and Tom Pyatt crashed the net attempting to poke the puck past Brent Johnson but again the end result would see the puck heading into the corner to end the threat. Andrei Kostitsyn then attempted to hit the Pens zone with speed but was clearly interfered with by a Penguins defender causing him to lose the puck. The Habs faithful made sure to voice their malcontent by showering the referees with a long chorus of boos.
The Pens returned into the Habs zone with both Asham and Maxime Talbot creating havoc along the boards. This led to Price making a good save on Kris Letang followed by back to back saves along the post on Talbot and Asham. Max Pacioretty tried his hand at shifting momentum for his team when he did everything he could to put pressure at the other end but failed to take a shot on goal. The Pens came back the other way and continued to attack the Habs until Michael Cammalleri broke free entering the Pens zone. While in good position Cammalleri let a shot go only to have his stick explode in the process allowing Johnson to make an easy save. After another save on Asham by Price, David Desharnais showed us why he was recently called up to the big club. Desharnais showed lots of poise controlling the puck in the Pens zone attempting to find an open teammate only to be frustrated by the Penguins collapse in front of their goaltender.
Pittsburgh showed more dominance in the Habs zone when Tyler Kennedy created a turn over and made a quick pass to an open Jordan Staal. Staal nailed the one timer only to see his shot hit the post for a close call. Price continued to have a strong period as he made a solid save on Evgeni Malkin after Malkin tried to fool him with a quick wrister. At the other end Pacioretty and Brian Gionta showed frustration as they both received golden opportunities but could not connect with the puck. The frustration continued when Kostitsyn received a nice feed from Tomas Plekanec only to have Johnson stop him point blank. Price had to be sharp for the rest of the period as the Pens controlled the majority of the play and outshot the Habs 13 to 5 to end the first.
Kostitsyn gave us another burst of speed to start the second period, when he skated into the Pens zone and forced another good save by Johnson. Price followed this up with a good save of his own when he stopped a Goligoski point shot with traffic in front. On the next shift Pyatt made a nice pass to Moen who was standing in front of the net. Moen managed to take a shot but ran out of room and ended up hitting the side of the net. At 3:23, P.K. Subban received a roughing penalty while in the offensive zone to give the Pens their first power play of the game. The Pens failed to generate any quality scoring chances on their power play with Moen receiving the best chance. After winning a battle along the boards against Malkin, Moen took a shot on the net. Johnson gave up a rebound and Moen pounced on it only to have Johnson steal a goal from him. With Subban just exiting the box, Staal took another crack at beating Price from close range but he would have none of it. Montreal went back to applying pressure in the Pens zone with Scott Gomez controlling the Puck. With the play still in the Pens zone, Pacioretty jumped on a loose puck and fired it on the goal creating another rebound. This time around Jaroslav Spacek found the rebound and fired it past Johnson only to hear the ping of the post.
With the period picking up in pace Malkin managed to sneak in past the Canadiens defense to skate in alone on Price. Malkin tried to beat Price with a couple of dekes but Price held his ground to keep the score close. At 8:31, Ben Lovejoy got caught tripping Cammalleri with the Habs attacking, giving the Habs their first power play of the game. Montreal’s best chance came off of a Desharnais pass towards Mathieu Darche which the later failed to connect with. After failing to gain a shot on their power play, the Habs came close again forcing Johnson to make back to back saves on Pouliot and Moen respectively. The Pens then almost doubled their lead when Price attempted to clear the puck along the boards. The puck ended up on Chris kunitz’s stick forcing price to make a save while skating backwards towards his net.
The Habs finally solved Johnson at the 12:28 mark, when Pouliot beat him top corner to tie the game. The play was started by Desharnais from behind the net who then made a pass towards Darche. The puck bounced off of Darche and fell behind him where Pouliot wasted no time in taking a shot. After the Habs scored, Pittsburgh's Asham came looking for a second goal when he went he just missed a big rebound with Price out of position. The Pens tested Price with Goligoski, Malkin and Letang all taking shots. Price stopped all three and showed his focus on Letang`s shot as it changed direction on its way to the net. Montreal controlled the majority of play for the rest of the period with Johnson having to make multiple saves on Plekanec, Jeff Halpern and Kostitsyn. After being outshot by the Pens 13 to 5 in the first the Habs returned the favour in the second by outshooting the Pens 13 to 7.
It only took eight second into the third period for Cammalleri to force Johnson into making a save. Heading back the other way the Pens earned their second power play of the game when they caused Kostitsyn to take a tripping penalty behind his net. Early on the power play, Letang blasted a point shot on price creating a rebound. Malkin rifled the rebound from the slot but Price met him with another good save. After the save on Malkin, Montreal completely dominated the Pens for the rest of the penalty and showed everybody why they are first in the league in this category. At 2:38, it was Kennedy's turn to take a trip to the sin bin as he was called for interference. Montreal failed to get a shot on goal with the extra man again keeping the game tied at ones. After the kill Kennedy streaked into the Habs zone with Spacek chasing him. The latter caught up to him and poked the puck away causing both of them to fall into Price and knocking the net off of its moorings. As Spacek fell he collided with the post and seemed to have injured his arm in the process. After going to the dressing room for a quick evaluation Spacek returned and continued to play the rest of the game.
Following the brief injury scare, Malkin attempted to surprise Price again by taking a quick spin shot on the net. Price foiled Malkin again with this attempt frustrating the Pittsburgh forward. After the save, Plekanec and Cammalleri skated the other way for a 2 on 1 opportunity. Unfortunately the two players ran out of room and Cammalleri ended up in the back of the net instead of the puck. Darche and Desharnais started showing signs of chemistry on the next shift as they created two scoring chances and drew a penalty. With not even a minute passed in the penalty, Johnson then received a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck into the crowd. The Pens got a chance to show why they are ranked number 2 in the league on the penalty kill as they blocked multiple shots and passes on the Habs 5 on 3. With the Habs failing to capitalize on their 2 man advantage the Pens decided to hand them another opportunity when Paul Martin also got called for a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck into the crowd. The Habs once again failed to score on the power play and gave the Pens the best scoring chance when Kunitz headed into Montreal`s zone. Luckily Gionta stayed with Kunitz and made a good defensive play to ensure that no shot was taken on Price. After Price made another save on letang, Cammalleri made a good pass towards Plekanec that hopped over his stick to cancel the scoring chance. Heading back the other way Malkin and the Pens continued to be stymied by Price as he shut the door for the rest of the period.
In over time, Cammallerri received the first chance as watched Johnson glove down his shot after it was tipped in front. Malkin attempted a clever play when he batted the puck in mid air twice in a row trying to get past Subban. Subban did a good job in staying with him and made sure that he did not take a shot on the net. James Wisniewski had the best scoring chance in overtime when he seemed to have all of the time in the world to wind up and take shot from the point. He managed to take a good shot but Johnson met him with a save to force the game into a shootout.
In the shootout Cammalleri was the first shooter for the Habs. He attempted a quick fake shot to move Johnson and then shot it hoping to beat him 5-hole. Johnson read the play well and made the save. Pittsburgh selected Letang as their first shooter. He skated down the middle and attempted to beat Price top corner. Price flashed his glove up and made the save to keep things tied. In a surprising move the Habs went with Subban as their second shooter. Subban decided to go wide to the left and the cut to the front before taking his shot. Johnson followed him step for step and made the butterfly save. Dupuis was next for the Pens but he made Price`s night a little easier when he missed the net with his shot. Next up for the Habs was captain Gionta. Gionta moved the puck from left to right while skating down the middle until Johnson made a poke check that seemed to disrupt Gionta`s plan. With a chance to win the game the Pens surprised no one when they selected Malkin as their third shooter. Malkin tried multiple dekes to get Price moving but his attempts failed to work and forced extra rounds to determine a winner.
Montreal opted to go with Kostitsyn for the next round. Kostitsyn`s bad luck continued as he lost the puck after attempting one too many dekes never taking a shot. Mark Letestu was up next for the Pens. Letestu attempted to beat price top corner where price met him with another good trapper save. For their fifth shooter, the Habs decided to go with the man who scored their only goal of the night. Pouliot skated down the middle and used his long reach to his advantage. After moving the puck from left to right and getting Johnson to commit, he neatly tucked the puck past the Pens goalie to give his team the edge. With the game on the line Price then stopped Kunitz to give his team the win in their first shootout of the season.
HiD Three Stars
- Benoit Pouliot
- Carey Price
- Brent Johnson
HiD Turning Point
Price's focus throughout the game including the shootout allowed the Habs to earn the much needed 2 points.