The Montreal Canadiens scored two early third period goals to stake a 3-0 lead on the Penguins. Pittsburgh answered with two goals from James Neal, but their comeback attempt fell short and the Habs held on for a 3-2 win at Bell Centre Saturday night.
Max Pacioretty scored two goals for Montreal. Tomas Plekanec added the third Montreal goal while goaltender Carey Price made 29 saves.
Plekanec scored Montreal’s second goal just 1:05 into the third period with the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey. Pacioretty notched his second at the 2:25 mark to make it 3-0 and the Penguins never recovered.
“Unfortunately they got the 4-on-4 goal to start the third period,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Then Max got them ahead by three. We had to fight for 16 minutes to try and get back.”
“You’re in a 1-0 game and it could go either way,” center Brandon Sutter said. “We had our chances to score. We just couldn’t get them to go in. They got a couple quick ones on us and definitely changed the game. We stuck with it and got a few late. Unfortunately, we just didn’t come out on top.”
Despite trailing 3-0 in the third period, there was no quit in the Penguins lineup. Habs goaltender Carey Price was stellar through the first two periods, stopping all 20 shots he faced.
“(Price) was solid,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We started well and got some chances. He weathered the storm early on and allowed them to stay in the game and get that important first goal in the second (period). He was solid all the way through.”
The Penguins finally broke through in the third period with a power-play goal by James Neal. Evgeni Malkin worked the puck over to Neal, who blasted a one-timer from the circle over the shoulder of Price to make it a 3-1 game with 14 minutes to play.
The Penguins added a second tally with a goal off of a rush play. Malkin carried the puck down the seam and then pushed it over to Neal, who snapped the puck into the goal. That cut the deficit to 3-2 with 2:53 remaining in regulation.
However, for all their efforts Pittsburgh could not find a way to score that third goal to tie the contest.
“In the third we didn’t start the way we wanted,” Crosby said. “We battled hard to get back into it. It’s a tough game to play when you’re fighting like that in the third.”
Penguins forward Beau Bennett did not make the trip to Montreal with the Penguins. He is being evaluated in Pittsburgh, though his recovery will be longer than a day-to-day affair.
Tanner Glass suffered an upper-body injury and needs further evaluation.
Malkin is expected to be OK after he slammed his tailbone into the endboards after the Penguins scored their second goal. Malkin lost his edge and hit the boards hard. He was in obvious pain, but was able to return to the ice.
“I don’t have reason to believe (Malkin) wouldn’t be (OK),” Bylsma said. “He went in hard on his tailbone, but he was fine.”
Author: Sam Kasan