Canadiens' Price stymies Penguins
MONTREAL — The Price was wrong for the Penguins. They escaped Montreal without paying a price, at least.
Evgeni Malkin avoided a possibly serious injury in Montreal's 3-2 victory against the Penguins on Saturday at Bell Centre. Montreal goalie Carey Price was the game's best player, stopping 29 of 31 shots.
He wasn't able to stop James Neal's shot late in the third period that made the score 3-2. Malkin brilliantly set up the play but collided with Neal and crashed into the boards behind Price a moment after Neal scored.
Malkin, however, finally skated to the bench and even played a shift late in the third period.
Coach Dan Bylsma expects him to play Monday in Boston.
“I don't have any reason to believe he wouldn't be (able to play in Boston),” Bylsma said. “He went down hard on his tailbone. He was fine.”
The Penguins did lose Tanner Glass, who blocked two P.K. Subban shots in a wild second-period sequence, to an upper-body injury. Bylsma said the team is still evaluating that injury.
Evaluating how to beat Price might be in the Penguins' plans later this season.
The Montreal goaltender long has been a problem for the Penguins, and he was again on this night. He allowed two third-period Neal goals, but the damage already was done to the Penguins, who repeated their habit of starting games strong but failing to score.
Price now owns nine career victories against the Penguins.
“He really didn't give us much all night,” Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. “There weren't many rebounds to be had against him. He was very, very solid.”
Bylsma often has offered lavish praise of Price, whom he first saw play in the American Hockey League.
Price stoned the Penguins for most of the first period as the Canadiens failed to muster a shot against the Penguins for nearly 14 of the opening 20 minutes.
“In the first period,” Bylsma said, “he was the difference. We had good opportunities, good chances. He was strong.”
The Canadiens received a spirited effort from center Tomas Plekanec, who scored a goal and irritated captain Sidney Crosby throughout the contest. Crosby won only six of 27 faceoffs.
Montreal, in fact, went out of its way to get under the Penguins' skin all night, and the plan worked. The Penguins were shorthanded four times and appeared distracted at times with activity after the whistle.
At one point, Montreal backup goaltender Peter Budaj grabbed Crosby's stick and wouldn't allow him to take it back into the Penguins' bench.
“I don't know if that stuff was the problem tonight,” Sutter said. “We had a great start. We really just didn't finish it off.”
The first Montreal goal, which was the first of two Max Pacioretty goals, came because of an Olli Maatta turnover.
“That was my fault,” he said. “I shouldn't have made the pass. Just a bad play.”
From that point, the Penguins' play noticeably regressed.
Much like in losses against the New York Rangers, Colorado and Philadelphia earlier this season, the Penguins simply couldn't muster any offense after they failed to convert on two power plays early in the first period.
Price simply wouldn't allow it.
“Just a disappointing loss,” Fleury said, “after such a great start.”
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