To the Canadiens credit, they came out flying in the first period. They were trying to take the energy of playing in front of the home crowd and turn it into an early advantage. To the Penguins credit, they weathered the storm. Pittsburgh was able to withstand the early pressure and keep the game tied at 0 going into the first intermission.
Unfortunately for Montreal, they were not able to keep the pace that they had set in the first period going for the next two periods. That is when the Pens, having stuck to their game plan, took over the game. The Canadiens got 7 shots in the first to the Pens 3. Most of those were very good scoring chances. In the second period, the Pens began to turn it on. The outshot the Canadiens 13-3. In the third the Pens outshot the Canadiens 9-8. Many of those were during frenzied, desperate attempts to tie up the game. In the second and third periods, time in the opponents offensive zone definitely went in the Pen’s favor.
It almost seemed like the Pens were trying to avoid shots on goal. They must have heard that Halak is 10-0-1 when he faces 40 or more shots on goal. I don’t actually think that they shot less as part of the gameplan (or, at least, I hope not). Much of it was due to the Penguins lack of precision shooting. Again, there were too many shots that missed the net. Some of them were good opportunities. I must give credit to the Canadiens again. The get in the way and make it hard for the Pens to get shots on goal. They are particularly good at not giving up second chance shots.
Ok, Fleury was the man tonight. He did not have to make many saves, 18 to be exact, but he made the big save(s) when it was needed. The two saves in the third period: one on Cammalleri and one on Plecanec were awesome and timely.
Hey! Malkin scored.
- I would like to see the Pens forecheck more aggressively. They need to finish their checks on guys. Too many times, when they are in pursuit, I see them peel off the defender and give them time to make a pass out. They need to follow through and make it hard on the defenders to get a clean pass out.
- The Pens still need to create more traffic in front of Halak. Two guys were in front when Malkin scored.
- Did you notice that the momentum seemed to shift as the game got more gritty?
- By the way, look for an article coming out in Sports Illustrated tomorrow by SI’s senior NHL writer Michael Farber on Crosby and his mountain of achievements.
This was a good win. Let’s keep the momentum going.