Habs lose to Penguins in Montreal

by Kaitlynn Ford

December 11, 2009.

Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins, ranked 30th in the NHL for game winning goals, scored another Friday night with 6:39 left in the third period to lead the Penguins to a tight 3-2 victory on the road over the Montreal Canadiens.

The win gives the Pittsburgh Penguins a total of 43 points this season, with a record of 21-10-1, keeping them tied for second place overall with division mates the New Jersey Devils. The Washington Capitals and the San Jose Sharks are tied for first, with a close 44 points, both having lost their last game.

Including last night, the Penguins have won four of their last five games in Montreal. The Penguins dominated the play for the majority of the first period, against a sluggish Montreal Canadien lineup. Defenceman Sergei Gonchar of Pittsburgh got the first goal of the game, and the only goal in the first period, just over six minutes in. The Canadiens have the worst first period goal differential in the league with minus 18.

The second period started off fast and furious with a string of penalties. The first of the game went to Montreal’s Max Pacioretty for holding, 3:30 into the second. The Penguins had a flurry of shots against Montreal goaltender Carey Price, with the Sydney Crosby line to start the power play, but failed to capitalize. The penalty kill average for the Canadiens on home ice is 83% this season.

Five more penalties would be called before either of the two teams took advantage of the extra man. Pittsburgh has the lowest percentage of goals on the power play in the NHL this season. Matt D’Agostini put Montreal on the scoreboard with the team’s first shot in the period, just over 10 minutes in. Roman Hamrlik riffled a snap shot from the top of the circle past a rattled Marc-Andre Fleury, for his fifth of the season, to give Montreal a 2-1 lead two minutes later with Ruslan Fedotenko of the Penguins in the box.

The lead was short lived, when Gonchar took a heavily screened point shot that Matt Cooke deflects past Price, for his second goal of the season, and to tie the game. When tied after two goals, the Penguins are 5-0-0 this season, and the Canadians are 5-3-1.

And although they may have been rattled on a couple of occasions in the third, they did manage to stick to the plan with Dupuis scoring a lucky deflection off of Price’s glove for his eighth goal of the season. Jay McKee got his 100th assist on the play.

Dupuis and Gonchar both had a two point night. The victorious Pittsburgh Penguins have a record of six comeback wins in the third period this season. Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 41 to 21.