In a game coming in where players from both sides called a measuring stick game, the Pittsburgh Penguins (13-3-1, 27 pts) overwhelmed the Montreal Canadiens (14-5-1, 29 pts) with a 4-0 shutout win over the Eastern Conference leading Canadiens.
“We really wanted to challenge our guys coming into this game because we knew how good Montreal was with their transition game and I felt we had to be really good defensively,” Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said. “We had to be great on the backcheck, be above on our forecheck, and I thought we were good from start to finish.”
The Penguins controlled the play 5 v 5 and made the Canadiens pay for their mistakes with Beau Beau Bennett (1) capitalizing on a Canadiens turnover at 7:46 of the first period and a 1:57 later, Bennett created a turnover in the Canadiens neutral zone leading to a Steve Downie (3) goal at 9:43 of the period as the Penguins jumped out to a commanding 2-0.
Brandon Sutter (5) would add a second period goal and Sidney Crosby (8) broke his goal-less streak with a late power play goal in the second as the Penguins rolled to a 4-0 win.
Bennett had a breakout game with a goal, two assists and the puck was following him all night.
Marc Andre Fleury earned his 4th shutout of the season and 299th career win.
What the Penguins did extremely well was not get out of their comfort zone defensively.
“I thought we played a really comfortable game defensively and then we took our chances when we had them,” Johnston said. “We didn’t force anything but our transition game was good, our down-low play was good, and then our power play converted, so putting them back on their heels early in the game was important.”