Saturday’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens was about more than two teams in the Eastern Conference trying to gain points in the standings.
This game was about two of the best goaltenders in the league going head to head: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Carey Price. Both of them trying to make a case for team Canada and the Olympics. Fleury trying to prove he belongs on team Canada and Price trying to prove that he should be the starting goaltender for team Canada come February.
Going into the game the Penguins knew it was going to be close and the team that made the fewer mistakes was going to win. Unfortunately, for the Penguins that team wasn’t them as they would fall to the Canadiens 3-2.
The Canadiens scored the first goal of the game, in the second period, after a turnover at the Penguins blue line. Max Pacioretty beat Fleury low on the glove side for his sixth of the season.
Entering the third period, the Penguins had to keep it a one goal game. However, the Canadiens had other plans as the scored two goals in 1:20. The first one coming off the stick of Tomas Plekanec, his seventh of the year. Pacioretty got his second of the game and seventh of the year as he wristed another one past Fleury giving the Canadiens a 3-0 lead.
With just under three minutes left, Neal would get his second of the game and fourth of the season, cutting the lead to 3-2. Malkin took the puck from behind his own net and skated end to end like a man possessed and at the last second dished it over to Neal, who made a beautiful forehand-to-backhand move for the goal.
In the first period, the Penguins missed two chances to take a 1-0 lead as they had two power-play opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize on either chance. If they could have scored on one of those early on the game could have been a different story as they really had all the momentum at that point.
Fleury played a strong game stopping 26 of 29 shots.
For whatever reason, the Canadiens know exactly how to push the Penguins’ buttons and get them off their game. The Penguins had a good week of hockey, though, as they won three out of four games and will look to get back on the winning track Monday night against the Boston Bruins.
Notes: Before the game, the Penguins received some bad news regarding young forward Beau Bennett. It seems Bennett, who was injured late in Friday’s game against the New York Islanders, will be out a long time. According to head coach Dan Bylsma, it will be longer than a few days.