The Montreal Canadiens were looking to extend their series lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, but their opponents had other plans despite Carey Price’s best efforts.
Coming off an overtime win where the underdogs prevailed, it was all but guaranteed that the Pittsburgh Penguins would not underestimate the Montreal Canadiens now that they were down by one. After 7 straight playoff game losses within the last 3 years, the Pittsburgh Penguins won and managed to tie up their play-in series. Here is a rundown of tonight’s matchup.
Jason Zucker had Carey Price beat on a breakaway but ended up shooting wide. However, Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 1-0 nearing the halfway mark on a five-hole goal with precision accuracy. Crosby was assisted by Jake Guentzel.
Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi quickly took a hooking penalty afterwards. The Pittsburgh Penguins were then highly aggressive on their first man advantage, quickly crashing the net on their first play. Carey Price managed to shut down several high-danger chances to keep his team’s deficit to one goal.
Evgeni Malkin, who was quiet for most of Game 1, was particularly lethal on the man advantage and looking to have a strong game. After a slew of penalties by both teams, the period concluded with the Pittsburgh Penguins holding on to their 1-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiens.
The Montreal Canadiens continued to struggle to get shots on goal, still having less 10 by the halfway mark. Carey Price was nothing short of dominant for the entirety of the period, stopping quality shots from the best of the Penguins. His performance comes after an already stellar performance in game 1.
If they had managed to stay out of the penalty box, they might have been able to tie up the game. Alas, the Penguins went into the final period play still leading 1-0.
The Montreal Canadiens more of a jump in their game after a lacking offensive game in the first two periods of play.
Brendan Gallagher appeared to be in some discomfort and went off to the dressing room but returned shortly after. In a game lacking in offence, that’s one player on the team who would be sorely missed.
The Montreal Canadiens continued their aggressiveness well into the final minutes of the third period, but Jason Zucker extended the Penguins lead 2-0 on a two-on-one play that was able to break Price’s guard.
Shortly after, Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored his second goal of the series to cut the Penguins back down to one goal. Artturi Lehkonen and Jeff Petry got the assists. The Montreal Canadiens then pulled Carey Price to get the extra man, but Jake Guentzel got the EN goal and gave the Penguins the win at 3-1.
Looking Ahead to Game 3
Per @OtherNHLCrosby, prior to the Penguins’ second goal of the night, Carey Price had made 67 saves on 70 shots for a .957 save percentage. If this Vezina-quality performance had been backed up by a stronger offensive push, the Montreal Canadiens would have been one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With Carey Price performing up to his standards, it will be up for the rest of the team to follow suit and stay out of the penalty box.
And on another note, Max Domi is capable of much more than relative to the role he has been given in this play-in series. Given the play of the current top-9 centres in Philip Danault, Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, it would not make sense to substitute Domi for one of them. However, he should be put on the wing next to talented players where his speed and playmaking abilities can push the team’s offensive boundaries.
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The Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins will play their third game of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Wednesday at 8:00 pm ET. The game can be viewed on NBC Sports, Sportsnet and the NHL Network. It can also be heard on TSN 690.