Pens vs. Canadiens: 16 Mar 2007

Sidney Crosby is just a little bit nuts.

How else could you describe this play, from early in the first period of this game? Sid skates through the neutral zone, gains the blue line, and find himself at the center of four Canadiens. So what does he do? He pushes the puck between the two Habs in front of him, jumps over their sticks, and fires a wrist shot at David Aebischer as he's landing. And scores.

It took most of the period for everybody to pick up their jaws. Except for the refs, who were calling this game far tighter than the last two Pens games.

I figure that Aebischer, by the end of the first, had lived down giving up that goal to Sid. Then he skated too far out of his net to make a clearing pass. The Pens were forechecking aggressively, and Erik Christensen was able to get to the puck along the left wing boards. He fired a wrist shot while Aebischer was still in the face-off circle, and the puck squeaked through the five-hole and drifted into the net. 2-0 Pens after one, and Aebischer spends the intermission looking for a hole to crawl into.

The second period belonged to Montreal's fearsome power play. First, Chris Higgins beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the post with a wrap-around. Then Sheldon Souray fired a howitzer from center point. The second ended 2-2.

The Penguins almost put this game away in the first five minutes of the third. First, Evgeni Malkin, cycling behind the net, found Christensen driving the net for a chip-in goal. Less than a minute later, Gary Roberts cleaned up the garbage from a Colby Armstrong wrap-around attempt. 4-2 Pens.

But the Pens couldn't stay out of the penalty box, which is very dangerous against the Habs. Mark Recchi got careless with his stick, and caught somebody in the face. On the ensuing power play, Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov connected for a picture-perfect back door goal. This is why two-goal leads suck.

After that, the refs put the whistles away, and the game opened up. On a three-on-two break, Michel Ouellet drove to the net, and Malkin's saucer pass was perfect. 5-3 Pens.

Crosby added his first career empty-net goal to cue Elvis' limo driver, and the Penguins pull ahead of Ottawa in their neck-and-neck race for the 4th seed in the playoffs.

Final Score: Penguins 6, Canadiens 3, Montreal's power play: 3 for 6. Don't take penalties against these guys. Just don't.

Three Stars:

  1. Erik Christensen (2G)
  2. Evgeni Malkin (2A)
  3. Michel Ouellet (1G, 1A)

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