After a game where Matt Murray allowed a staggering seven goals, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ young goalie allowed only one against the Montreal Canadiens (27-13-6) in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win Wednesday night. With the defense allowing only 20 shots on net, Murray’s job was considerably easier than in his previous game against the Washington Capitals.
The game began with both teams’ offenses off to a good start, but Pittsburgh (28-11-5) got on the board firsts thanks to a wide-open Ian Cole flying down from the blue line. This goal would be the only in the first period, but it wouldn’t be the last from the Penguins’ confident offense.
Pittsburgh went on to have an incredibly solid second period that really ended up being the game’s turning point. After an Eric Fehr goal from right in front of the net, Jake Guentzel got his fourth goal of the season to make the game 3-0.
However, the Canadiens wouldn’t go down without a fight, and they managed to get on the board with just over a minute left in the second period. Sven Andrighetto scored his second goal of the season — but it would be Montreal’s lone goal.
In the final period, Olli Maatta padded the Penguins’ lead to help his team coast to its second-straight win.
Wednesday night’s win also snapped Pittsburgh’s three-game losing streak on the road, and the team can now set its eyes on stringing a few more wins together.
“We had some pretty good structure,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “We limited their speed coming into the zone and made good decisions with the puck. It was a pretty solid team effort.”
It was a big game for Murray considering his start last time out against the Capitals. While the easy decision would have been to allow Marc-Andre Fleury start this game against Montreal, Sullivan put Murray in net because he’s only played four games in the last month.
Since Murray has returned from his injury, his performances have been polar opposites. Fans watching Wednesday night got a taste of the really good, an encouraging sign as the All-Star break approaches.
“I haven’t been as good as I needed to be for the last few weeks,” Murray said. “Tonight’s win was a total team effort; we didn’t take a lot of penalties and we blocked shots. I haven’t been making those timely saves, and this was a good bounceback for everybody.”
“Total team effort”
The theme of Wednesday night’s win seemed to be that it was a total team effort. The 4-1 win was much-needed to help the Penguins’ confidence on the road, but, most importantly, Pittsburgh is still putting itself in a good position to stay competitive atop the Metropolitan Division.
In order to win what is considered to be the toughest division in the league, the Penguins need more team wins like this. While Sidney Crosby has been a major catalyst in Pittsburgh’s success this season, being too reliant on his skills could hurt the team in the long run.
Wednesday night’s win showed that the Penguins still need players on all lines to make a contribution because, believe it or not, Crosby isn’t going to score in every game to give the offense the lift it sometimes needs.
Following the 4-1 win against Montreal, the Penguins will go on the road to play the Carolina Hurricanes Friday at 7:00 p.m. EST.