The Pittsburgh Penguins lost game one of the NHL play-in round by a 3-2 final. This puts them down a game as they look to regroup heading into game two. Montreal opened up the scoring just eleven minutes in thanks to Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The Penguins game would be the first of the NHL Playoffs to go into overtime.
Even though these are qualifying games, the league is using the playoff overtime format, meaning a fifteen minute intermission was had followed by a twenty minute period until one of the teams brought things to wraps. Matt Murray got the nod for game one.
It wasn’t until the second period that the Pittsburgh Penguins got on the board as Sidney Crosby scored nine minutes in after trailing the Habs, at this point down 2-0. The Penguins had a five-on-three for a little over a minute and a half, but failed to capitalize on the two man advantage. This would send the frame back to even strength. As a result, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the lines were changed ahead of game two.
Yes, they may have practiced those lines and they may have worked for the exhibition game minus the loss, however, the set lines may not work for every team they take to the ice for against Montreal. Moving along, Conor Sheary was awarded a penalty shot, but he couldn’t get the puck past Carey Price. Despite outshooting the Canadiens early on, the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t crack Carey Price.
“We really liked the way we were playing. We felt like we had possession time, we were controlling territory, we generated a fair amount of scoring chances,” head coach Mike Sullivan said following the loss. “The puck just didn’t go in the net for us. We could’ve been up a couple goals in the first period.” The Penguins need to look at their mistakes and try to come up with a game plan so they don’t happen again in game two. As the second period resumed, they gave up a shorthanded goal on an odd man rush which is something no team wants to do. After giving up the goal to Montreal, the Canadiens scored yet another goal, this being shorthanded on an odd man rush.
Despite many power play changes, Pittsburgh couldn’t get anything going. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Carey Price was a brick wall in net. Jared McCaan started a sequence that led to the goal from the Penguins captain. It happened on a bad bounce which saw the puck bounce off the skate of Price. The Crosby-Malkin-Guentzel line wasn’t as busy while trailing the Canadiens. They could’ve created more scoring chances, but ultimately failed to do so.
“We’ve got to try to get some shots. The one area where I think we could have improved throughout the course of our whole overall game, the power play included, is just more of a net presence – making it hard on Price to see the puck,” coach Sullivan continued after the game. “I thought we had opportunities to get to the net and take away his sightlines, and we didn’t do as good of a job at that tonight.” Pittsburgh is a team that likes to pass, but they failed to shoot when given the chance. They need to create a screen in front of Carey Price which can be expected to be seen on Monday.
Bryan Rust scored the Penguins second goal with 12:34 left to play in the second. After his first of the series, the score remained tied until overtime where Jeff Petry ended it with six minutes left. This would give the Canadiens a 3-2 win in game one over Pittsburgh. The Penguins need to work on winning puck battles and get a net front presence to keep the Canadiens at bay. Both of these should be seen when they take to the ice for game two on Monday.
Speaking of which, the game is available for viewing on Sportsnet Ontario NBCSN and AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. It will also be carried in French for those in Canadiens region on TVA Sports. As well, it can be heard via radio on TSN 690 and 98.5fm.