The Habs kicked off the second half of their schedule by taking on the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. It was a tight-checking game all night and was 2-2 headed into overtime. However, on a goal that should have been called back for goalie interference, Pittsburgh got the extra point.
Fresh off the trade from Buffalo on Thursday, Marco Scandella made his Canadiens’ debut in this game. He wore jersey number 28 and lined up with Cale Fleury on the third defensive pairing with Brett Kulak being the healthy scratch.
After a back and forth first five minutes, Marcus Pettersson was called for holding, which sent the Canadiens to the first power play of the game. Pittsburgh played them tight and the Habs couldn’t get any pucks through so the first powerplay came up empty.
Almost nine minutes into the game, Nick Suzuki showed a great burst of speed and beat out two Penguins to cancel an icing call. He then gathered the puck and sent it out front to Max Domi. Domi then made a slick pass behind his back, and Artturi Lehkonen one-timed it home for a 1-0 Habs lead.
Right after the Habs goal, Price was able to stop a Brandon Tanev breakaway to keep the lead. However, on the same shift Teddy Blueger found a wide-open Zach Aston-Reese behind the Montreal defence, and just like that, it was a 1-1 hockey game.
Later on, in the period, Domi was stopped on a one-on-one rush. He got up frustrated and dropped the gloves with Pettersson. A Pens power play resulted, as Domi was given an extra two minutes for cross-checking before the fight. Halfway through that penalty, Lehkonen was tripped and the power play was over.
Pittsburgh came close to taking the lead with a few odd-man rushes, but they couldn’t find a way to put another past Price. Shea Weber was called for slashing in the last minute of the period and the Penguins had a powerplay to take into the second.
Just four minutes into the period, Lehkonen intercepted a Jack Johnson clearing attempt. He was already in tight to the net but he had enough space to jam the puck between the post and the pad of Matt Murray for his second of the night.
On the next shift after the goal, the Habs put some heavy pressure on the Penguins and it forced them to take a hooking penalty. The Habs had one really good chance on the powerplay. After a Pens rush, Domi took it back the other way and found Jordan Weal across the ice. Weal spun around and fed a streaking Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the slot, who fired a shot that went just over the net.
Seven minutes into the period, Pittsburgh had a two-on-one rush, and it looked like Bryan Rust had the tying goal. However, with a strong push off the post, Price came across to rob him to preserve the lead. On the next shift after the save, Scandella was sent off for a trip. A solid kill from the Habs kept the lead intact.
With eight minutes to go, Johnson was called for high sticking, but there was nothing doing on the power play again for Montreal. Price made several more key saves before the middle frame ended and kept the Habs in the lead going into the third period.
Five minutes into the third period, Scandella came within inches of his first as a Hab when his howitzer from the point hit the post but stayed out. Pittsburgh came back on the same shift and a lucky bounce off the end boards went right to Rust and just like that, the game was tied.
Just over halfway through the period, Phillip Danault was called for tripping. Late in the power play, Nate Thompson sent Lehkonen in alone. Lehkonen tried to go five-hole, but Murray squeezed his legs together and stopped it. Just as it expired the Pens went in on a two-on-one and Cale Fleury slid across to make a big stop on the centring pass.
With five minutes to go in the third, there was a scramble in front of the Habs net and Rust thought he might have put the puck across the line. No camera angle showed the puck going in at all, so the game stayed at 2-2.
Each team had dangerous scoring chances late in the third, but nobody could convert, and the game needed three on three overtime.
Early on in the overtime Lehkonen came in and rang a shot off the post. The Penguins came back the other way but Petry broke up the play. Two minutes into the extra frame, Brandon Tanev scored on a rebound, but it looked like Price was interfered with by Teddy Blueger. Unfortunately, the NHL can never make the right call, and the goal stood.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Artturi Lehkonen
Lehkonen is supposed to be the defensive mind on his line, but he had all the Habs offence in this one. He had a great shot to finish the first goal and it was a great individual play for the second. He could have completed the hat trick in OT, but the shot the post.
Stats: 2G, +2, 3 SOG, 1 hit, 15:19 TOI
Second Star – Max Domi
Domi was really creative in the game today. He was all over the ice and set up many great chances for his teammates. The pass on the first Lehkonen goal is something that only a few players can do.
Stats: 1A, +1, 3 SOG, 1 hit, 19:36 TOI
Third Star – Cale Fleury
Fleury was a steady presence on defence. He looked really good next to Marco Scandella and the two formed a responsible pair that also generated offensive chances. He was skating very smoothly and distributed the puck well.
Stats: +2, 3 SOG, 2 hits, 12:23 TOI
Honourable Mention- Carey Price
Price played well and stopped a few sure goals, especially on the two-on-one in the second. He was not at fault for the two goals in regulation and was hit by Blueger on the OT winner so it’s hard to fault him there as well.
Stats: 28 Saves