Puck drops. Sid drops.
Maxim Lapierre popped Sidney Crosby in the gut on the opening faceoff. You stay classy, Canadiens.
I don't have to tell you that things stayed nasty for the rest of the game. The refs were hard pressed to keep it all straight, so their calls were, to put it kindly, uneven.
The first was a lot of up-and-down action and good defense. The Pens opened the scoring late in the period, with Evgeni Malkin altering the trajectory of a Sergei Gonchar rocket. 1-0 Pens after one.
The second started out like the first, only harder and faster. Then, about four minutes in, all hell broke loose. Saku Koivu circled behind the Penguins' net at full speed, but he was too busy looking for somebody to pass to. He never saw the freight train coming. Colby Armstrong, skating full speed in the opposite direction, hammered Saku Koivu so hard, his brother Mikko must have felt it all the way out in Denver. While Saku was peeling himself off the ice, Sheldon Souray came to his defense. Unfortunately for the Habs, Souray's idea of having Koivu's back was to jump on Armstrong's back, driving Colby down to the ice, throwing punches all the way down. Souray got 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, a 10 minute misconduct, and a game misconduct. Armstrong got an escort to the penalty box, but only to keep him out of harms way until Souray left the ice. The Pens got a seven minute power play.
The Penguins cycled well, but couldn't beat David Aebischer. Then Radek Bonk got called for interference, giving the Pens two full minutes of 5-on-3. Gonchar rips a slapshot behind Aebischer, 2-0 Pens. Then the Habs got a break. Bonk blocked a Gonchar shot out to center ice, outraced Alain Nasreddine to the puck, and fired a cruise missile over Marc-Andre Fleury's glove hand for a short-handed goal. 2-1. Gonchar got revenge with another blast from the point to finish off Souray's instigating minor to make it 3-1 Pens. Bonk got another goal at the end of the second. 3-2 Pens after two.
The third started out looking good. Erik Christensen almost scored on a wicked wrist shot from the left circle, but he hit the post, then almost beat Aebischer by taking a disgusted one-handed swing at the rebound as he turned to the bench for a line change. Two shifts later, Christensen finally scored with a wrister from the slot to make the score 4-2 Pens. Time for that defense first game that shut down the Panthers Tuesday night, right?
Maybe that works against Florida, but Montreal is a much better team. The Canadiens kept cranking up the intensity, putting the Penguins back on their heels. Just as it looked like the Pens might get a little momentum back, Montreal got two sucker punches in. First came a literal sucker punch, when Tomas Plekanec socked Nasreddine in the face, resulting in a power play for the Pens and a face-off to the right of Fleury. Then came the figurative sucker punch, as Montreal won the face-off, cycled the puck to the opposite point, and scored another short-handed goal, on a deflection by Mike Johnson. 4-3 Pens, and now the Mellon Arena faithful are sweating a little bit.
With the Penguins scrambling in their own end, Montreal tied the game on a fluky goal by Mathieu Dandenault. His centering pass bounced off Fleury and Rob Scuderi before trickling oh-so-slowly across the goal line.
Overtime. Montreal dominated early, then Koivu and Brooks Orpik got into a shoving match behind the Pens' net, and were called for offsetting minors. Good news: Orpik got Koivu off the ice. Bad news: Two minutes of mind-numbing defensive 3-on-3 play. I'm talking New Jersey vs. Minnesota, dueling neutral zone trap boring. Montreal got another power play late in OT, but Fleury stood tall to force the shootout.
- Christensen is a shootout specialist, and he didn't disappoint. 1-0 Pens.
- Alexei Kovalev's mullet dazzles Fleury. 1-1.
- Crosby scored a beautiful shootout goal against Montreal last year, so maybe — one move too many, the puck rolls off his stick and into the corner. Still 1-1.
- Christopher Higgins tests Fleury's glove side, and fails it. 1-1.
- Malkin says "Hey, Kovy, I don't need a mullet!" 2-1 Pens.
- Plekanec is Montreal's last chance, but he is no match for Fleury's Crouching Butterfly Style.
Final Score, Penguins 5, Canadiens 4 (Pens win shootout 2-1), Sheldon Souray's official PIM: 27.
- Sergei Gonchar (2G, 1A)
- Radek Bonk (2G)
- Evgeni Malkin (1G, 1A, SO GWG)