MONTREAL (AP)—The Pittsburgh Penguins’ power play knocked Montreal’s surprising playoff run off track, and native son Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) delivered the coup de grace to silence an enthusiastic Canadiens crowd.
Evgeni Malkin(notes) scored his fourth power-play goal 1:16 into the third period and Fleury made 18 saves for his fourth NHL playoff shutout, lifting Pittsburgh to a 2-0 win over the Canadiens on Tuesday night and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Montreal hadn’t been shut out at home in the playoffs since back-to-back blankings by Buffalo at the old Forum on April 6-7, 1983, in the first two games of an opening-round, three-game sweep. The Canadiens had played 118 home playoff games since their previous shutout.
Malkin took Sergei Gonchar’s(notes) pass and fired a one-timer from the right side past Jaroslav Halak(notes) to give the Penguins a 1-0 edge. Alex Goligoski(notes) also assisted on Malkin’s fifth goal of the playoffs, but first since Game 4 of Pittsburgh’s first-round win against Ottawa.
“It seems like we’re having good chemistry with him and we’re finding those lanes,” Gonchar said. “When he’s there he has a chance to shoot but you have to realize there were a couple of guys in front. Sidney (Crosby) was in front of the goalie and (Chris Kunitz(notes)) was too, so it was kind of a five-man effort when we scored the goal.”
The Penguins went 4 for 4 on the power play in a 6-3 win in Friday’s series opener. Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 with the man advantage in a 3-1 loss in Game 2.
“I got it pretty good,” said Cammalleri, who has eight goals and five assists. “Maybe in hindsight I should have got it up but I thought I could squeeze it by him coming across. He made a good save—he came across quick. I’ve got to make a better shot.”
It was Fleury’s first playoff shutout since a 6-0 win over Philadelphia on May 18, 2008.
“It was great to see the guys play that way and get a big win,” Fleury said. “It’s good, but no matter what happens I think you’ve always got to focus on the next game. It’s the first one who wins four games, so we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready for the next one and be positive and try to win it.”
Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 25-18, including 13-3 in the second.
Halak stopped 23 shots for the Canadiens, who have lost seven of eight playoff games at home, including three of four this year.
“It was a game where the team that scored first was going to have a good chance of winning,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said.
Sidney Crosby(notes), who leads NHL playoff scorers with 16 points, was held without a point for a second straight game. The Penguins captain drew a holding call against former teammate Hal Gill(notes) with 12 seconds left in the second, setting up the power play that led to Malkin’s goal.
“It’s playoff hockey and I’d be the first one to tell you I’d love to create a chance every shift,” Crosby said. “I’d love to score every game and set up guys but sometimes the game doesn’t dictate that as much as you’d want it to, or you don’t get the bounces, and you’ve got to find other ways to be productive.”
Game 4 is Thursday night in Montreal. Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday in Pittsburgh, where the teams split the first two games of the series.
Veteran right winger Bill Guerin(notes) didn’t play for the Penguins, who were already without center Jordan Staal(notes) for a second straight game. Guerin has an undisclosed injury and is listed as day to day.
Each team had one power-play opportunity in the first period. Canadiens right winger Brian Gionta(notes) had four shots as Montreal held a 7-3 advantage in the opening frame. Two Canadiens shots came with the man advantage after Goligoski was called for tripping 4:22 in.
“I thought they came out hard in the first period, and we didn’t respond as well,” Gonchar said. “We made a few turnovers and spent time in our zone, but then after the first period we realized we’re not playing the way we should. We had to adjust and we started playing better, creating more chances and spent more time in their zone.”
Halak stopped Cooke on a breakaway just over 5 minutes into the second.
After failing to get a shot on their power play in the first, the Penguins fired a couple of shots at Halak late in their second opportunity midway through the second.
Goligoski had a great scoring chance late in the middle period but was denied by Halak.
NOTES: Fleury’s recorded each of his three previous playoff shutouts in 2008. … Guerin has three goals and five assists in eight games. … Canadiens D Jaroslav Spacek(notes) missed his seventh game because of a virus.