After Game 7 wins, Game 1 of the next round does not usually go well for the winning team and Montreal was no exception as there spiritied effort in the deciding game versus Washington did not carry over against Pittsburgh.
To make matters worse, Andrei Markov left the game and did not return after Matt Cooke laid A CLEAN HIT on the Russian which left him squirming in discomfort. Markov is expected to miss the rest of the playoffs with a “lower body injury”, which will require Montreal’s fountain of experienced D-men to step up.
This will also call for rookie P.K Subban to stay with the big club likely for the rest of the playoffs. (Your loss is my gain)
In Pittsburgh, injuries showed its ugly head with Jordan Staal suffering a foot injury in Game one and its unclear when he could return. There have been reports of him coming back in this series or next round if Pittsburgh is to get there so keep your eyes peeled for reports on his progress.
In Game two appeared it was going to be a similar finish when the new line combination of Max Talbot-Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy connected for a goal after a pretty passing in the first period. However that would be Pittsburgh’s only goal of the game.
Michael Cammaleri scored his playoff leading seventh and eight goals of the post season including a display of great hand eye co-ordination when he batted a puck out of the air and past Marc-andre Fleury on his first.
Jaroslav Halak, who was under seige throughout the game, made 38 saves in the win, giving Penguins players a dose of what Capitals players had to deal with in the past round.
Montreal blocked 15 shots in the game with most of them coming in the thirdperiod when Pittsburgh was putting on the pressure for the equalizer.
Sidney Crosby was a minus-2 in the game including the turnover which led to the third Canadiens goal late in the final period.
Crosby, who seemed frusturated throughout the game with the clutching and grabbing of the Canadiens defencemans, was pointless and if you ask me, lacked the physicality to be a factor in the game.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was good but not great, but I could have that opinion based on Pittsburgh outshooting Montreal by 20 and losing. Halak of course had a lot to do with that but Fleury needs to match Halak in the goaltending category regardless of the amount of shots. Cammaleri’s second goal was a great shot, but stoppable and Fleury needs to make that save for Pittsburgh to compete.
Looking forward to Game three the big boys in Crosby and Malkin need to perform better on both sides of the ice and the forwards have to do a better job of getting in Halak’s grill because frankly, he can’t stop what he can’t see.
Pittsburgh’s five on five play was superb and they did not take many penalties which is encouraging but they need to execute offensively. The dump and chase has worked all season long for Pittsburgh and there is no sense in getting away from it at this point in the season.Montreal’s trap allows opportunities for Pittsburgh to control the puck but it has to be done with an aggressive forecheck.
Also, the entire team has to start shooting high on Halak because his pads are far too quick to get beat down low. Throughout the game, Pittsburgh were getting chances of rebounds from shots hitting the chest of Halak and I’m willing to bet they can get a few more goals if they focus on capitalizing on rebounds
Over the past two seasons, the Pens have had success in the playoffs playing on the road and the atmosphere in Montreal should be fun for both teams in Game three.
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Written by Amit Mann