We set our expectations low for this game. Pens are in a ridiculous stretch of games, they played a tough game on Friday against the Isles, and, well, it is kind of just November.
A Saturday night in Montreal is always a tough game in a great atmosphere. Games like this are where players like Malkin and Crosby amp it up so much more, and this was no different. Just an elite level of hockey.
But Montreal's big boys came to play, as well. The Markov/Subban D pairing may be the most terrifying in the NHL right now. Sorry to gush over P.K. Subban, but there’s a really good reason Pens fans despise him.
Subban also gave Malkin the business. Not too many defenders can go after Crosby and Malkin like that and survive it. It took Crosby off his game and he was starting to go into punk mode.
Max Pacioretty also showed up in a big way with two goals, probably trying to impress his Olympic coach, Dan Bylsma, on top of everything else. Funny thing about Pacioretty: he was on the board when the Pens drafted Angelo Esposito in the 2007 NHL entry draft. That was a different time, before Bylsma and the Penguins were drafting the way they do now. If that draft happens now, you have to think Pacioretty is a Penguin…or wouldn’t be allowed to crack the NHL lineup and traded to Montreal anyway.
– Typical start in Montreal. Nothing like that first visit to Montreal every year and getting reminded of the Habs fans' outrage every time a Montreal player falls.
– Could’ve been an old-school Pens game in Montreal if the Habs capitalized on Martin’s early turnover. We still have PTSD from the Mike Cammalleri series.
– Malkin and Crosby picked up where they left off Friday night, just flying. Crosby drew a penalty on Emelin 3 minutes in. That was killed. Then the Pens were on another power play when Briere tripped up Maata on a scary play. The Habs fans were charged up.
Crosby did this during that PP:
But that’s all the Pens did. Killed.
– The Habs started getting pressure in the back half of the period. Pens had a close call late when a puck snuck through MAF, but Orpik swept it out of the crease. For some reason, the Montreal crowd starting mocking Fleury.
Meet another Montreal villain.
Brendan Gallagher. Complete troll.
– Then came a rReally rough turnover by Maatta. Pacioretty sliced up MAF. 1-0. Wouldn't be Maatta's first turnover.
Brian Gionta is probably the most nondescript captain in the NHL, but he knows when to start shit. After he acted like he was dead after getting smoked by Orpik, Gionta mixed it up on the very next shift and drew a penalty on Matt Niskanen.
– The penalty got the Habs’ power play rolling and really turned the momentum. The Pens would be shorthanded for 6 of the next 9 minutes. Totally out of their flow.
– On the Sutter penalty, he got a stick up into Briere’s face. Sutter was mad about it for some reason. The PP was ass, and Tanner Glass was a dying fish after getting hurt blocking a shot. The Habs kept feeding Subban for slappers, making Glass contemplate suicide. Tip your hat to Gibbons. At the first opportunity, he switched places with Glass. But then Gibbons took a hooking penalty; it looked like he got all stick, though. MAF really locked down the net for that rough stretch of penalty killing.
The saddest thing about those kills was that Malkin and Crosby were handcuffed to the bench for a huge stretch of the game.
– Pens escaped the period only down 1-0, which was huge. There was a little dust-up after the whistle, which is notable because Kunitz and Gallagher both got penalties.
– Things fell apart quickly. The third opened up 4-on-4. The Habs had it all planned out. Subban and Markov teamed up to find Plekanec in the slot. 2-0.
– A minute later, Pacioretty watched a puck hop over Malkin's stick and onto is. Then he did Letang dirty:
– But the Pens didn't go quietly. Brian Gionta got called for a penalty, and James Neal started a run. He buried a shot past Price. 3-1.
– Then Evgeni Malkin went nuts and did this:
– Neal with a sick finish. 3-2. Malkin was down, and it was a terrible feeling. But Malkin got up and kept coming. The very next shift, Malkin was completely insane. He and Neal were posessed.
But Carey Price was just a tad bit better. He stood tall and the Pens basically just ran out of time.
– Pens lost the giveaway stat again. PIT-7, MTL-4.
– Got to say. There's something different about Gibbons compared to most of the Pens' forward prospects that have come up in recent years.