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Marc-Andre Fleury stopped every shot the Montreal Canadiens threw at him, Evgeni Malkin scored a power play goal, and Pascal Dupuis capitalized on an empty net as the Pittsburgh Penguins took a hard-fought 2-0 decision on Tuesday night. The win gives the Pens a 2-1 lead in the series, which will resume in Montreal on Thursday night.

The game's #1 star, Fleury turned in his finest performance of the postseason, a statement game aimed at his outspoken critics who've said the goalie hasn't "won" a game for the Pens in the 2010 playoffs. And while the Penguin netminder faced only 18 shots on the evening, he still managed to come up with huge save after huge save, especially in the third period, with a sliding pad stop on Mike Cammalleri with 7:36 remaining and a right pad save on Tomas Plekanec's redirection late in the game. With all that being said, in a contest that was scoreless into the third, every save was a big save - and MAF could do no more.

While the defense was solid, the Penguins' offensive struggles continued at even strength, where they would once again go scoreless on the night. Pittsburgh has scored just two even-strength goals so far in the series, definitely a statistic to keep an eye on. 

Another area of concern is the lack of scoring from Sidney Crosby, who has just two assists and no goals yet in the series. However, it's worth adding that Crosby drew the penalty on Hal Gill that set up the third-period power play, which then led to Malkin scoring the eventual game-winner a little more than a minute into the final period.

Like Fleury, Malkin had been drawing criticism for not playing up to his potential in the postseason, going five games without a goal - so it was nice to see him score such a big one on Tuesday. The Incredible Malk hadn't scored since the 7-4 win over Ottawa in Game Four of their opening round series on April 20.

Not only were the Penguins battling a tough Canadiens team, a hot goalie, and a hostile crowd, they had injuries to contend with on Tuesday. Bill Guerin was ruled out on Tuesday morning with an undisclosed injury, and Jordan Staal was limited to a spectator's role after his tendon injury last Friday night. But despite those obstacles, they managed to pitch a shutout in a second-round road playoff game - never an easy task. 

The series takes a day off, then picks back up on Thursday at Montreal's Bell Centre. If the Penguins are lucky enough to skate off with another victory, they'll return to Pittsburgh up 3-1 in the series, ready to deliver the knockout blow. A Penguin loss basically creates a best-of-three scenario, with two of those games being played in Pittsburgh. Considering they've fallen behind in the series while allowing a total of one goal to the Crosby/Malkin two-headed-monster, time is running out on the Habs - and Thursday figures to be their most desperate hour yet.

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Someone Somewhere said...

Incredible. Pittsburgh is undefeated on the road in the playoffs. I really like the chances of a team that doesn't lose on the road. I think the game 7 victories at Washington and Detroit last year continue to pay dividends. What makes this team so difficult to beat 4 times is their ability to alter their style of play to whatever is going to win them a game. Washington stubbornly continued to bang their head against the wall and it ended up knocking them out. Pittsburgh beat Montreal at Montreal's game tonight. That has to be frustrating. I've said it before, but once again, Fleury showed his hand early in this one making a few HUGE saves early in the just knew he was going to have a big night.

BAMAQT said...

Did I hear the crowd right, tonight? At the end of the 2nd period, did the entire Candian fanbase chant "Crosby Sucks?" Wow, This is the star that won the gold medal for their country! Did anybody else hear the same thing?

Chip said...

Yeah, the Canadian fans are ungrateful turncoats. Then again, Pittsburgh fans aren't much better with booing Fleury after one bad game. Hopefully this stellar performance makes them STFU for awhile.

Incredible Malk is a very apropriate nickname. The dude is literally Hulk-like. He was just skating around mild manneredly, doing nothing as usual and then that big fight at the end of the period happened. After that, he was flying around like a man possessed.

Don't make Geno angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

JeremyT said...

Wow. We needed to win that exact type of game last night. I doubt Montreal will quit on this one, but that has to damage the psyche quite a bit. They played their game to a "T" and forced us to play it too. Then we just mimicked them better than they mimick themselves and shut them out.

(See, Homerun Meatballs. I didn't use any left-haded jabs at the opposing team. Didn't want to confuse your simple brain again. You're not going to mistake me for a Canadiens fan, are you?)

Unknown said...

What a win. You can't find a more tightly played game. Even Malkin's goal was by the ever so slightest of margins. Fleury played his ass off and people need to once and for all realize that he is top notch talent and carries the Pens time and time again when he needs to.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Crosby also screened Halak on the Malkin goal and had some great chances where Halak made big stops.

I think we are going to have to improve 5 on 5 scoring, without a doubt.

I hate to say this, but I think there was some merit in Boudreau's comments about the Canadiens taking dives. Their first PP was a result of Metropolit taking a huge leap and then Gomez tried to do the same thing a couple of minutes later.

LaPierre should have gotten 5 minutes for the slew foot on Fleury, as well.

Steve said...

Wasn't impressed with the Pens reaction to the Habs in the 1st period. Even though they didn't get a lot of shots on net, the puck was in the Pens end for 17 out of the first 20 minutes.

Yes, the unbeaten road record so far is nice, but when you play 4 of 7 games at home, it'd be nice if they could win more there. At this pace, the Pens could win every game on the road and still get eliminated and it'd be nice to clinch one series at home before the last game is played at the Igloo.

Unless Nova Scotia declares its independence, I think Crosby should play for the USA in the next Olympics. Canadian's clearly don't deserve him and it's time he realizes he's not respected there. He needs to play for the country he lives in and home of the team he plays for. Screw Canada.

okel dokel said...

Chip if anyone could spot a turncoat it would be you.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

Oh my, i've been called out. Thank you, kind sir, for spelling it out for my simple wittle mind. I am forever indebted to your superior intellect.

That pad save on Cammalleri was a thing of beauty!

And i agree with BAMA, Chip, & Steve. I couldn't believe the Jagr treatment Sid was receiving from the Montreal crowd! Wow!

okel dokel said...

I am not surprised by the reaction. They can be a nasty crowd. Also, he is not French Canadian.

Someone Somewhere said...

I'd like to thank the neanderthal...err Flyer fan for the "Crosby sucks" chant...very creative. Especially considering, you know, he is pretty much the opposite of "suck" from a hockey standpoint. Now, a "McKee sucks" chant is probably something I could get behind.

Steve said...

Yes, it has to be 3 syllables to work. You know, like PO-NI SUCKS!, PO-NI SUCKS!

AJ said...

Hey... at least I didn't hear them boo the U.S. national anthem last night. Although the guy with the perm took about 38 minutes to sing it.