penguins march 26The Pittsburgh Penguins made a second period goal stand up for a 1-0 win over the Canadiens Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. It was the Penguins 13th victory in a row, the second longest winning streak in club history.  Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun shared the shutout after Fleury was hurt in a goalmouth collision with teammate Tyler Kennedy late in the second period.  The Canadiens outshot the Penguins 37-25.  The Canadiens loss buries them seven points behind the Penguins in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference.  The Canadiens have two games in hand.

The loss technically dropped the Canadiens into fourth place in the Eastern Conference although, with 45 points they are tied with Boston for the Northeast division lead.  Both teams are seven points behind the Penguins.  The Canadiens complete their two game road trip in Boston Wednesday night.

Adding It Up –

The Well Run Dry – The Canadiens have been limited to two goals or fewer in four of their last five game. Exluding the 5-2 win over the Islanders the Canadiens have scored five goals in the other four games and lost three of them.  Prior to the current drought the Canadiens had scored three or more in eight straight.

In a Nutshell – A goal post, a cross bar, a brilliant power play save on Andrei Markov and a blown line change was the story of a game that the Canadiens completely dominated for two periods.

The Bell RingerMichael Ryder hit the post behind Fleury after getting a pass from Emelin in five minutes into the game.   Early in the second period with the game still scoreless it was Ryder again, this time off the cross bar.

The Game Changer – Seconds into the Canadiens first power play of the night, Andrei Markov got the puck in deep and let fly quickly.  Somehow Fleury got over to get a pad on the shot.  It was the only shot the power play managed in their two advantages.

The Killer – The game was decided on a fouled up line change and a rookie mistake.  Thirteen minutes into the second period, Francis Bouillon and Jarred Tinordi were looking for a change.  Bouillon got off but Tinordi was left on the ice as Chris Kunitz head manned the puck to Sidney Crosby.  Tinordi was hung out with Subban, Bouillon’s replacement unable to get into the play on time.  Facing a 2-on-1 Tinordi decided to pick up Pascal Dupuis leaving Crosby with a clear path. Given a wide open chance, Crosby doesn’t miss very often.  Up over Price’s shoulder, stick side.  All the Penguins needed.

Ice Cold  – Max Pacioretty led both teams with seven shots on goal with nothing to show.   He has fourteen shots the last two games and not one was memorable.  Pacioretty has a goal and 3 assists in his last his last ten games after scoring 20 points his first eighteen.  There seems to be a reluctace on his part to find the dirty areas you expect a power forward to inhabit.

Doing His JobJeff Halpern logged 14:51 in his first game.  He back here to win faceoffs and he won 11 of 18 for 61%.  The Canadiens killed off all four minutes they were shorthanded and Halpern was on the ice for all but 47 seconds of that.  He took over all of Lars Eller‘s penalty killing time, which meant Halpern had 3 minutres more ice time than Eller.

Reason to Worry? – This version of the Canadiens have earned the reputation as one of  hardest working teams in the league.  The best indicator of that is territorial play.  While scoring only one goal the last two games they have been on offence almost twice as much as they’ve had to defend, generating 140 shots toward the net while allowing only 79.  (On goal 76-43).  Sometimes the goals don’t come no matter how hard you work.

Getting Real – Thoughts of overhauling the Pittsburgh Penguins powerhouse don’t seem realistic, even with those two games in hand.  Winning the Northeast division still is the mix.  The slumping Bruins are going to be at home Wednesday facing a Canadiens team that will be playing for the second time in 24 games.  Including the comeback win in Boston March 3rd which ended their seven game winning streak, the Bruins are 7-5-1.  At the same time the Canadiens were 7-3-1 and picked up two games in hand.