Morrow leads Penguins to hard-hitting win over Montreal
What would Gary Roberts do?
Nod his head in approval, perhaps
Penguins fans used to ask this question about Roberts, and another grizzled veteran — he even wears Roberts' old No. 10 — produced an evening that could transform him into a similar cult hero in Western Pennsylvania in a 6-4 victory against the Montreal Canadiens.
Brenden Morrow scored twice against the Canadiens and now has five goals in his past four games following a slow start with the Penguins.
“He's added on the score sheet as of late,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “But that's only a small portion of what he's brought.”
With the Penguins comfortably ahead in the final period, Morrow did not take kindly to a slash from Montreal defenseman PK Subban, who has been a villain in Pittsburgh since the 2010 postseason when his skate blade severed a tendon in center Jordan Staal's foot.
The two shoved each other and, a moment later, their gloves dropped. Morrow certainly had the better of the fight and, after Subban had submitted, Morrow continued to attack him with a couple of punches from behind, much to the crowd's delight.
Morrow would have preferred if Subban had put up more of a fight.
“The wires were crossed,” he said. “That's not normally how you see a fight go. I wanted to stand there and throw some punches. I was upset with how it went.”
With the crowd already in a frenzy, Morrow hollered at Subban for at least one minute from the penalty box. He clearly was yelling that “in five minutes” he was going to challenge Subban again.
“That's probably the PG-13 version,” Morrow said. “We didn't get the opportunity (to fight again). Not really much of a history (with Subban). Just two guys playing hard, battling, competing. That was it.”
Many of the Penguins simply smiled while talking about Morrow following the contest. They are pleased that the veteran is on their side.
“Obviously he is good at what he does,” defenseman Douglas Murray said. “I've seen him play that way before.”
So has defenseman Matt Niskanen, a former teammate of Morrow's in Dallas.
“I don't think he's enjoyable to play against,” Niskanen said. “He'll get under your skin because of how hard he plays. He stands up for himself, and he's got some skill. That's a pretty good combination.”
It's a pretty good description of the current Penguins, too.
Playing without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — both of whom could return soon from their injuries — the Penguins remain strong offensively but are playing a more physical game.
They outhit Montreal, 33-21, one game after outhitting Florida 40-25.
The Penguins now lead Montreal and Boston by nine points in the Eastern Conference standings and require only three points to clinch the No. 1 seed for the Stanley Cup playoffs. They've won five in a row and 20 of their past 22 games.
Morrow and Brandon Sutter each scored twice for the Penguins, while Jarome Iginla and Murray added goals. All six goals came from players acquired by general manager Ray Shero within the past 10 months. Iginla's goal gave him 1,100 career points.
Still, the story of this night was Morrow, who added an assist.
He has now produced five goals in his past four games.
Morrow also quickly has become a fan favorite with his nasty style that is often beneficial in the playoffs. Along with a number of standing ovations from the crowd, he received a fist bump and a smile from owner Mario Lemieux in the locker room.
“There's a different hero every night right now,” Sutter said.