PITTSBURGH 1 – MONTREAL 0
Marc Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun combined for a 37 save shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-8-0, 52 pts) defeated the Montreal Canadiens (20-7-5, 45 pts) 1-0 on Tuesday night at the Consol Energy Center, extending their winning streak to 13 games.
Vokoun replaced an injured Marc Andre Fleury in the third period to make 12 saves to preserve the shutout. Fleury was excellent making 25 saves in two periods of work, prior to getting injured.
The Penguins 13 game winning streak is the longest of the Sidney Crosby era and the Penguins are closing in on the Penguins NHL record best 17 game win streak in 1993.
Sidney Crosby (15) scored the lone goal, a beautiful wrist shot coming down the right side at 13:19 of the second period for his 15th goal of the season and 29th career game winning goal.
The Penguins combined shutout was the fourth in franchise history. The last one was February 2, 2011 when Marc Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson combined for 23 saves in a shutout win over the New York Islanders.
The surging Penguins now lead the NHL with 52 points but the storyline of tonight’s game was the injury to Marc Andre Fleury who failed to come out for the third period, after being drilled in the head by Tyler Kennedy who was somewhat pushed into the crease by Canadiens forward Brian Gionta.
Fleury was dazed immediately from the blow to the head but the Penguins had no update on his situation afterwards. “He’s going to continue to be evaluated,” head coach Dan Bylsma said of Fleury’s status. “Maybe have more for you later,” the Penguins coach added.
Vokoun stepped in for Fleury and continues to play very well of late. “As a goalie you have to be ready all the time, you never know,” Vokoun said for stepping in for the injured Fleury. “I’ve played long enough, anything can happen in a second. You have to be ready no matter what.”
*The Canadiens showed why I believe they would be a tough matchup for the Penguins and could give them a scare in a playoff series. In reality they were probably the better team tonight but against the Penguins you have to take advantage of your chances and the Canadiens were not able to.
In the first period and some change into the second period, the Canadiens were outworking the Penguins and playing a sound structure game but all it took was one lapse from the Canadiens defensively for the Penguins to strike when there was a breakdown defensively in the neutral zone by the Canadiens and Chris Kunitz found a flying Sidney Crosby on a speed play down the right side and beat Carey Price with a perfectly placed shot. Just like that Pittsburgh is in the lead.
“Five millimeters was the difference tonight,” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said afterwards, calling Sidney Crosby the “best player” in the world.
Penguins head coach Michel Therrien said the Canadiens got beat tonight “by the best player in the world.”
Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 37-25 overall, and 25-12 through two periods. Fleury had what might have been his best game of the year prior to being injured, showing excellent quickness and he came up with some big stops on the penalty kill.
*Brenden Morrow saw 12:55 of ice time in his Penguins debut. He moved around in the lineup, seeing the majority of time with Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal, in addition to Matt Cooke and Brandon Sutter. Morrow also had three shifts with Sidney Crosby. Morrow was pointless, had no shots and one hit. He didn’t standout but did the little things well.
*Tyler Kennedy played with some fire, dropping the gloves on his first shift and he played with an edge tonight. Kennedy knows the situation on the Penguins roster right now.
*Fans may hate PK Subban but he is a hell of a defenseman. It’s no wonder he’s right up there in the Norris Trophy talk.
*Replays show Brian Gionta gave a very and I mean very soft shove to Tyler Kennedy who went into Marc Andre Fleury hard. The Penguins, though, didn’t feel that way and we’re targeting Gionta from the start of third period.
“Regardless of what the result is that we’re a team. We’re going to stick together and send a message,” winger Matt Cooke said. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma also didn’t feel it was a soft push. “That was clear as to what happened and we took exception to it,” Bylsma said.
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik who often says how it is, had a different tune on Gionta’s shove. “He’s a pretty honest player,” Orpik said of Gionta. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world and he’s got to fight for everything he’s gotten his whole career. It’s an unfortunate play, but that play happens quite a bit throughout the year.”
*Beau Bennett played a 4th line role seeing a team-low 7:52 of ice time. He had no shots on goal and was invisible again for most of the night.
*The Penguins have given up 9 goals in their last 9 games, the biggest storyline for them heading down the stretch. “Our D did an outstanding job tonight,” Bylsma said.