Special teams, again !!!  

The Pittsburgh Penguins scored a power play goal early in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door the rest of the way for a 2-0 win and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Semi-final series.

 Fleury had to make two outstanding saves late in the late stages of the game to nail down  the win.  The Penguins second goal came with the Canadiens net empty. 

 Evgeni Malkin scored the power play goal with Hal Gill in the penalty box serving a penalty he picked up late in the second period.  Pascal Dupuis scored into the empty net with 15 seconds remaining.  Sydney Crosby was limited to one shot on goal for the second straight game.

 The Canadiens dominated the first period, outshooting the Penguins 7-3.  Through the final two periods the Penguins had a 22-11 shots-on-goal advantage.

(Game Highlights Below)

 The Way It Went

 First Period –

Out of the Box – The Canadiens completely dominated the Penguins through the first period.  Not helping the Penguins cause was a penalty to Alex Goligoski at 4:22.  The first 1:22 of the power play the Canadiens held the puck in the Penguins end for the first 1:25 of the manpower advantage, with P.K. Subban getting the best scoring chance.

Opportunities Lost – The Canadiens leading playoff scorer Michael Cammalleri took the puck end-to-end made a great move on the defence and then shot the puck wide of Fleury at 17:53 of the period.   Less than a minute later, Maxim Lapierre got loose in front and hit the cross bar behind Fleury.  

End of First –   0-0.  Shots – 7-3 for the Canadiens.

Second Period

Halak! – With the momentum of the game slowly shifting to the Penguins, Jaroslav Halak was forced to make a major save when Ryan O’Byrne fell against the boards allowing Matt Cooke to go in alone on the Canadiens goal.  Halak was strong again in shutting down Goligoski, who was pinching in to take a goalmouth pass.

About Sydney – Crosby got his first and only shot on goal in the game at 18.57 of the second period after going 38 shifts in a row without a shot. 

Penalty Trouble – Hal Gill at 19:48 of the second period for holding on Crosby.

Diving – With two seconds left in the period, Crosby took a dive while being  checked by Hamrlik with no response from the referees.  It did lead to an end of period melee and roughing penalties to Josh Gorges and Kris Letang. 

End of Two Periods still 0-0.  Shots on goal in the second – Pittsburgh 13, Canadiens 3.

Third Period –

Key Component Missing – The Canadiens started the third period with Gill, their best penalty killer, in the box.  With Hamrlik and Subban defending the crease, and Crosby screening, Evgeni Malkin scored on a 50-foot slap shot to put the Penguins on the board.  The goal came at 1:16 of the period.

Trying to Get It Back – After sitting back for the middle thirty minutes of the game (over which the Canadiens were outshot 21-5, the Habs turned up the heat.

Fleury Earns The Shutout.  In the final ten minutes of the game the Canadiens outshot Pittsburgh 6-0.  Fleury was outstanding on Cammalleri twice.  At 12:23 of the period with a goalmouth pad save on a Cammalleri one timer off a goalmouth pass from Gionta.  And four minutes later, Cammalleri to Plekanec on a late power play at 16:37.

The Final Shot – Belonged to the Penguins.  The Canadiens were ineffective with Jaroslav Halak pulled for the extra attacker and Pascal Dupuis scored into the empty net to close it out.  Final score – Penguins-2  Canadiens-0.

Summing It Up –  This is one of those games that could have just as easily gone  the Canadiens way.  A power play goal and a couple of big third period saves the difference in a game that was effectively 1-0.  No reason to get down after this effort.  A good playoff game on both sides.  The Penguins showed a lot of patience, something they didn’t demonstrate in game two of the series.  Evgeni Malkin took seven shots on goal for the Penguins.  Brian Gionta had seven shots for the Canadiens.  Michael Cammalleri had four.   One does wonder about Jacques Martin’s decision to dress forward Mathieu Darche.  Darche did not register a second of ice time in the game.  The teams get another crack at it on Thursday at the Bell Centre.

 The Goalscorers –  Pittsburgh  Malkin (5th) PPG (Gonchar-Goligoski); Dupuis (2nd) ENG (Kunitz-Eaton).   Canadiens – None.

 Shots on Goal – Pittsburgh  3-13-9 = 25   Canadiens  7-3-8 = 18

 Three Stars –  First – Marc-Andre Fleury (Shutout – 18 saves);   Second – Evgeni Malkin (Winning goal – seven shots)    Third – Brian Gionta (7 shots on goal)

Notes –

Not Dressed – For the Canadiens – Jaroslav Spacek (ear infection); Ben Maxwell; Sergei Kostitsyn.  Mathieu Darche dressed – Did not play.   Pittsburgh – Jordan Staal (ankle injury); Bill Guerin ( undisclosed)

The Shutout –the fourth of Fleury’s playoff career, was the first in the playoffs since since a 6-0 win over Philadelphia May 18, 2008.

The last time the Canadiens were shutout at home was April 7th, 1983 when Buffalo beat them, a span of 118 games.

                                                                              (THE GAME HIGHLIGHTS)