Penguins overwhelm Habs below the dots
In snapping a three road losing streak, the Penguins played a style tonight in their 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens that as Mike Sullivan said afterwards — ‘makes them harder to play against’. —
Shots in the game were just a 26-20 advantage Pittsburgh with the Canadiens having a 51-49 edge in 5 v 5 shot attempts.
Where the Penguins overwhelmed the Canadiens was below the dots, with great net-front play, creating offense behind the goal line that led to goals and winning battles for the puck when out-numbered.
While the Penguins were often playing on the right side of the puck defensively, the Canadiens were not.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring with an Ian Cole goal at 14:52 of the first period. Key plays on the goal was a controlled entry by Evgeni Malkin then a net-front presence by Patric Hornqvist with a little help from Zach Redmond being on the wrong side of the puck and screening his goalie. Cole blisters a shot past Price who never see’s it.
The Penguins in the second period then go up 2-0 on a goal from Eric Fehr, where Trevor Daley has a nice keep in, while Scott Wilson and Chris Kunitz make skilled plays below the goal line and Fehr buries one for his sixth of the season.
They would strike again on a Jake Guentzel tip-in goal in the second that was all set up by Guentzel’s ability on the forecheck.
As noted before about Guentzel during his first call up, he might be undersized but he’s an excellent forechecker. He has great hockey sense in attacking defensemen who are retrieving the puck with the proper angles that force players to their backend. The lead up to his goal tonight was textbook forechecking by Guentzel.
After Guentzel delivers an initial hit on Petry, the Penguins come out with the puck while out-numbered 3-to-2. This was a constant story in the game.
“He plays the game the right way. Has really good hockey sense,” Sullivan said of Guentzel who has 4 goals and 2 assists in seven NHL games this season.
— Eric Fehr showed again tonight that his best position is center. He put some good tape out there tonight for a team or two that’s mulled trading for him as a center.
Fehr had a goal, was tied for a team-high 4 shots on goal. He also won 7 of 11 faceoffs.
With the Crosby line (15/24) and the Bonino line (6/15) bledding shot attempts tonight, the 4th line provided a needed impact with a goal and drove possession at better than 65%.
Wilson – Fehr – Kunitz were on the ice together for 16 shot attempts, 7 against at even strength.
“I thought they were real solid. Gave us a spark,” Sullivan said of the 4th line.
— The Penguins limited the Canadiens to 12 shots through the first 40 minutes.
“We had some pretty good structure. I thought we made pretty good decisions with the puck,” Mike Sullivan said of his club.
— After Matt Murray allowed seven goals Monday night, Marc Andre Fleury being passed up to start tonight against his hometown team had to be a punch to his gut.
Fleury relishes every opportunity to play in Montreal. One of the few times Penguin players ever saw Fleury visibly angry To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!