In the Pittsburgh Penguins’ (2-1-1) first road game of the season, against the Montreal Canadiens (2-0-1), the home team, in its home-opener, was able to capitalize on the man-advantage and on the Penguins’ injuries. Defenseman Kris Letang and winger Conor Sheary didn’t finish the game for Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh offense was unable to tally a single goal in the 3-0 loss.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who was slotted in at goal, didn’t look as effective as he did in his first three games. The Penguins’ defense also looked tired and slow at times.
This isn’t to say the effort wasn’t there. However, the defense was unable to clear out pucks and gave up too many close shots to give their team a fighting chance. Turnovers and odd-man breaks by the Canadiens is what sealed the deal and what sent Pittsburgh home with a loss.
For the first time this season, the Penguins have been shutout — and it wasn’t pretty. While the offense is partially to blame, Canadien goalie Al Montoya played one of his better games as a pro.
Pittsburgh was able to generate pressure from time to time, but that was usually disrupted quickly by Montoya. Once his team was able to put up a pair of goals, he was able to help control the pace of play and freeze pucks if the Penguins began to heat up.
Montreal’s defense also did a great job in smothering puck handlers and trapped the Penguins to create odd-man rushes.
The Penguins found themselves with eight opportunities to score with an extra man on the ice, but each time they were denied by Montoya and the rest of the Canadiens’ penalty kill.
Tuesday’s game marks Pittsburgh’s biggest struggle without Sidney Crosby, who has yet to play this season (concussion). The game really showed how vital the captain is to making the Penguins’ powerplay so lethal. Without him, there’s clearly a void on these lines that no one, not even Evgeni Malkin, can make up for.
It certainly didn’t help that Letang left the game in the third period, and his absence on the power play in the late going was definitely felt.
Tuesday night’s game was a learning experience for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Playing for the first time on the road, it wasn’t going to be easy considering the fact that, the night before, they lost in overtime.
Regardless, the Penguins looked beat in all aspects of the game. There was no answer for Montoya, and Montreal’s offense looked like a well-oiled machine against Pittsburgh’s defense.
Pittsburgh’s next game will be against its Stanley Cup opponent, the San Jose Sharks. The game will be played this Thursday at PPG Paints Arena at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Image credit: Pierre Obendrauf/Montreal Gazette