Penguins get back on track in rout of Canadiens
Evgeni Malkin did not know, Sidney Crosby was not looking and Dan Bylsma would not say.
They all witnessed a change for the Penguins on Wednesday night.
That something was a matchup — Malkin was on the ice for three goals scored against Montreal's top defense pairing of P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov — in the Penguins' 5-1 victory at Consol Energy Center.
“Nobody told me,” Malkin said. “I (did) not pay attention.”
Crosby said he no longer looks to see against whom he is playing because Bylsma, in nearly five full years as Penguins coach, is not one to match forward lines against opposing defense pairings.
Bylsma had the last change that is afforded to home coaches for this game unlike Nov. 26, when the Penguins lost at Montreal, 3-2, and Crosby appeared frustrated working against Subban, the Norris Trophy-winner last season.
In that loss, Crosby first had to work his way past Tomas Plekanec, Montreal's top defensive center.
Getting Crosby free from Plekanec was part of the Penguins' plan Wednesday, right winger James Neal said.
Bylsma, while smiling, declined to divulge his plan.
Malkin said his plan was to “make us play better” than in recent weeks.
“He and Jussi (Jokinen) were flying out there,” Neal said.
Malkin appeared more dominant than his 13th goal and an assist on Jokinen's first of two markers indicated on the final scoresheet.
On multiple occasions — and a few times on the same shift — he engaged Subban near the boards and maneuvered around, then raced past, Markov in open ice.
“You can't let Malkin carry the puck like that up the ice,” Canadiens winger Rene Bourque said. “It looked like he was playing a video game out there every time he went around us.”
Fuming, as were his teammates, since a 5-1 loss Monday to lowly Florida at home, Malkin sought to dictate from the start against Montreal.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien designated Plekanec's line and the Subban-Markov pairing to start the game. Bylsma countered with Malkin's line.
“That's what I wanted,” Malkin said.
Malkin, despite missing 11 games, has 50 points. He would be on pace for a fourth 100-point season had he been healthy.
Crosby has played in all 50 games — his most in four years — and leads the NHL with 69 points, pacing toward a 113-point campaign that could clinch his second scoring title.
His power-play goal in the second period provided the Penguins a three-goal cushion. It was Crosby's 26th of the season and one of his prettier goals.
Stationed to the right of Canadiens goalie Carey Price — his future Olympic teammate — Crosby deflected a pass from defenseman Kris Letang, who played almost 23 minutes and blocked three shots.
Crosby, mostly free from Plekanec and Subban, attempted 11 shots against the Canadiens compared to four in that loss at Montreal in November.
Therrien coached Crosby and Malkin to within two wins of the Stanley Cup in 2008, but he described them as “more mature now.” By no coincidence, Crosby and Malkin sparked the Penguins in perhaps their most important game this season.
Three weeks of defensive decline culminated in the loss to Florida on Monday, but the Penguins' response was a mix of a puck possession-led attack offensively and neutral-zone congestion.
“It was like they were trying to be aggressive,” Therrien said. “They were quick. They were hungry to play.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steeler lineman Adams sues men he claims attacked, stabbed him
- 11 Ligonier Township residents rescued by boat from floodwaters
- Sestak kicks off U.S. Senate campaign — with a couple missteps
- Guatemalan to be deported after getting caught with brass knuckles in luggage
- Bad weather delays Parkway West, Fort Pitt Tunnel lane closures tonight
- Penguins need trade-deadline acquisitions to bring toughness
- Court rules Steelers must pay Okobi workers comp
- Elizabeth Township, McKeesport impacted by ice jam on Youghiogheny River
- House resolution urges Wolf to reverse death penalty moratorium
- Homewood shooting victim identified
- Police: Suspect in 1970 cold case homicide of 17-year-old dies days before charges filed