MONTREAL 3 – PITTSBURGH 2
The biggest takeaway from the Penguins (15-9-0, 30 pts) 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens (13-9-2, 28 pts) Saturday night: The Penguins needed to score “great goals” to beat Carey Price and that wasn’t the case for Canadiens. Carey Price out played Marc Andre Fleury who gave up three iffy goals in the loss and that was the difference in the game.
“In the first period he was the difference,” Dan Bylsma said of Carey Price. “We had good opportunities, good chances and he was strong.”
While Price was excellent, this still wasn’t one of those games where the Penguins just ran into a hot goaltender and deserved to win.
— Montreal did a lot of good things and took a page out of Boston’s playbook in making a point to frustrate the Penguins, especially their big guns. PK Subban was under Sidney Crosby’s skin all game and while the Canadiens are not a big team, the Penguins again came off as being too soft, a huge issue for them personnel wise that isn’t going to go away barring some trades. The million dollar question is whether management see’s what others see as there’s really no chatter right now that the Penguins brass feel the need to get bigger and tougher upfront. We’ll see over the next couple months.
— With an elite goaltender, shutdown defenseman in PK Subban, strong defensive structure and forwards that can skate, the Canadiens matchup well against the Penguins despite a lack of star power up front.
— Here’s what I see when I watch Kris Letang and PK Subban. I see Subban as a “1” (shutdown defenseman/impact player in all phases) and Letang as a “2”. That doesn’t mean Letang’s can’t evolve into a “1” but I feel it’s going to take the right coach who could help him evolve into a more system defenseman.
— Sidney Crosby was held pointless and 6 of 27 in the faceoff circle. Crosby the NHL’s points leader with 30 points, is averaging a career low 1.25 points per game. Don’t look now but Evgeni Malkin’s 2 assist night gives up 4 goals and 22 assists on the season. With Crosby well down from his 1.55 points per game or higher mark he previously had posted since the 2010 season, Malkin is a legitimate contender to be in the scoring title race this season.
— James Neal was feeling it tonight. 2 Goals and 13 shot attempts. He looks ready to go on a run.