The Pittsburgh Penguins took on the best team in the Eastern Conference on Saturday night when they faced the Montreal Canadiens. The past two games the Penguins defense has been awful and has been a big reason why the Penguins are on their current two game losing streak.
Defense hasn’t just been a problem for two games. It was a problem last year and thus far has been a problem this season. The Penguins can’t hold leads and allow teams to get back into games even games that they win. It happened just recently with the game against Tampa Bay Lighting. They take bad penalties and on numerous occasions leave their goaltenders out to dry where it is either make a miraculous save or give up a goal.
Defense wasn’t a problem when current Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was here and it isn’t a problem for his current club either. Realizing the the Penguins needed to make a change they went back in time and brought someone back to wear the black and gold. That someone was Mark Eaton. Eaton was a member of the 09 championship team and knows what they need to do to get back to the cup.
The Canadiens jumped to an early 1-0 lead when no Penguins cleared Brandon Prust out of the crease and he chipped a rebound easily behind starting goal tender Tomas Vokoun. The goal was Prust third of the season. The Penguins worked hard all period getting great chances but were unable to get any passed goal tender Carey Price. That was until they received a late power play and were able to cash in on a goal by Brandon Sutter tying the game at one. The goal was Sutter’s fifth of the season.
The Penguins gave up the lead after Kris Letang failed to get the puck out of the zone and nobody stopped Brendan Gallagher from getting to the net. His shot rebound off the pads of Vokoun and nobody put a body on Max Pacioretty allowing him to score his seventh of the season. After being questioned about their work ethic by their captain Sidney Crosby there was no give up in the Penguins as they tied the game when Chris Kunitz banked it off the back of Price scoring his tenth of the season.
It didn’t take long for the Penguins to strike again, just 31 seconds to take a 3-2 lead. Matt Cooke was the goal scorer his fourth of the year. But Cooke wasn’t done as he picked up a loose puck and wristed it passed Price for a 4-2 lead. The goal was Cooke’s fifth of the season.
Before intermission the Canadiens not only cut the lead in half but were able to tie it when Brian Gionta tipped one pass Vokoun for his fifth of the season making it 4-3. With one second left in the period PK Subban was able to slip pass the Penguins defense and sneak a quick wrist shot pass Vokoun. The goal was Subban’s fourth of the year.
The Canadiens continued the momentum they built at the end of the second and were able to get the lead on a goal by David Desharnais, his fifth of the season.
Another poor defensive effort did not effect the Penguins on the offensive end as they continued to work and Kunitz was able to slap one passed Price for his second of the game and 11th of the season. Crosby would give the Penguins a short lived lead when he put his 10th of the year in. It only took the Canadiens 30 seconds to tie it up on a goal by Gionta his second of the game and sixth of the season.
In a game that had everything it was the Penguins who got the last goal as Sutter scored the game winner in overtime his second of the game and sixth of the season.
While it was great seeing the Penguins win it was a horrible road trip for the Penguins. Winning only one of three games and allowing 16 goals, ten of which were allowed by Vokoun. Something has to change as the up and down action is great to watch but as the Pens learned last year it won’t work in the playoffs.