Sunday, November 23, 2014

Penguins dump listless Habs

PITTSBURGH—Marc-Andre Fleury skated to centre ice—eager to add an exclamation point to his 28th victory of the season.
The Pittsburgh goalie was cut off, though, by referee Kyle Rehman before he could reach Montreal counterpart Peter Budaj.

All Fleury could do was shrug his shoulders as Rehman guided him out of harm’s way.
“Oh well,” Fleury said with a laugh.
It was the only thing that didn’t go Fleury’s way on a night the Penguins restored order to their universe. Fleury stopped 23 shots, and Jussi Jokinen scored twice, as Pittsburgh dominated the Canadiens 5-1.
Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist, Sidney Crosby netted his 26th of the season, and Taylor Pyatt added a rare score as the Penguins rebounded from a dismal performance against lowly Florida on Monday by overwhelming Montreal.
“We definitely buckled down, especially defensively,” Crosby noted. “Didn’t give them a ton and when we did, [Fleury] made some great saves, and we generated some good chances and capitalized on them.
“It was a good game to respond.”
The Panthers snapped Pittsburgh’s club-record 13-game home winning streak by outclassing the Eastern Conference leaders on both ends of the ice to send the Penguins to their worst home defeat in more than two years.
Coach Dan Bylsma called it the byproduct of a steady decline in play over the last three weeks, and the rustiness that comes with the return of regulars like James Neal and Paul Martin to the lineup.
Whatever the problems were, they disappeared 48 hours later.
The Penguins were crisp in the neutral zone, responsible on defence, and efficient on offence. They didn’t pepper starter Carey Price so much as they surgically picked him apart.
All five goals either were the byproduct of deft passing or nifty stickwork.
Rene Bourque had his seventh goal for the Canadiens but Montreal spent most of the night fruitlessly chasing the Penguins.
Price stopped just 16-of-21 shots before being pulled late in the second period as the Canadians fell for the fourth time in six games.
“Pittsburgh is the best team in the conference, and they were the best team tonight,” noted Montreal coach Michel Therrien.
“They played hard and they deserved success.”
Malkin ended Price’s night by swooping in from the right circle and putting in his own rebound.
Price skated to the bench after being chased for the second time this season in favour of Budaj, who stopped all 10 shots he faced.
The saves will be long forgotten. The way Budaj nodded across the rink to Fleury to start a fight that never quite happened won’t, though Budaj insisted it was nothing personal.
“I think there was just a scrum on the ice and there was built-up tension—you know, we were losing 5-1,” Budaj noted.
“It was a disappointing night for us. So props to him [Fleury] that he wanted to do it,” Budaj added.
“That’s good.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Calgary nipped Phoenix 3-2, Detroit topped Chicago 5-4 (SO), and Carolina edged Philadelphia 3-2.

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