You are reading live from the press box of Mellon Arena on a blustery day in Pittsburgh.
-Name-dropping alert: We were riding in the elevator up to the press box with Mike Lange and a few Penguins fans. The fans asked Lange who was going to win tonight. With a smile, Lange replied, "If I knew, I'd be in the Bahamas with one on each arm."
-Odd observation of the day: Why does the U.S. Army advertise on the Montreal Canadiens Web site?
-We'll stop with the name dropping. Sorry.
-Exiled Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev will return to his team tomorrow.
-We won't waste the pixels and state this is a must-win game... but we just did... Drats!
-A few sites walking around the concourses. A few Habs fans are withdrawing either $50 American or $213,432,634,134.42 Canadian.
(Does that joke still work?)
-A Saku Koivu jersey:
-A Bill Thomas t-shirt jersey:
-Is it us, or are there just not that many Sergei Gonchar jerseys out there?
-A Super Bowl XLIII Jacket? Seriously?
(We wouldn't mind it as much if it had a Steelers or even Cardinals logo but it's just a bland generic jacket.)
-A Michael Ryder jersey:
-Alex Kovalev still has some fans here:
-Wow.... Wow.... In his first game Dan Bylsma makes a pretty stunning move as he actually scratches Kris Letang. Public address announcer John Barbero is even stunned a bit as he's reading off the Penguins' scratches... He paused while reading off Letang's name. Fans boo at the announcement.
-This is a really bold move by Bylsma. Letang has easily been the Penguins' top defenseman and in our opinion, their fourth-best player this season.
-Also a bit surprising is the scratch of Bill Thomas. He's played really well as of late.
-We hate to be the source of a rumor. This is PURE SPECULATION. But would the be saving Letang from a potential injury for a potential deal.
-Again, that is PURE SPECULATION. We'd be shocked if they parted ways with Letang. But we were shocked when they acquired Marian Hossa last season.
-We were totally kidding when we made the crack about Letang being scratched and dressing up as a Habs fan too.
-Montreal's scratches are Steve Begin, Alex Kovalev and Patrice Brisebois.
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price are the starters in goal.
-Natonal anthems are sung. Bylsma apparently scratched Jeff Jimerson too. He's not here to do them. We refuse to take a picture.
-Thankfully, no one booed "O Canada." Way to be Pittsburgh.
19:52: Matt D'Agostini hustles after a puck and sweeps it on net with a backhand. Fleury nabs it. A small scrum ensues.
19:15: FSN Pittsburgh offers us tonight's line combos:
18:03: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
17:45: Petr Sykora is honored on the video board for playing in his 900th career game Monday.
16:22: Pascal Dupuis takes a pass from Fedotenko and cranks a slapper from the right faceoff circle. Price fights it off. That's the Penguins' first shot of the game.
15:36: Matt Cooke sticks Mac Pacioretty behind the Habs' net with a solid check.
15:02: Eric Godard decides to see if he's any better than his predecessor as he drops the gloves with Big Georges Laraque. It's a really weak fight. Laraque kind of dips and hides away from Godard. Godard swings and misses. Laraque reaches in and hits Godard with a punch. Godard slips and falls. Laraque falls on him. Realllllllly weak. They did play "Mother" by Danzig however.
13:52: During a commercial stoppage, a Q&A video with Hal Gill comes up. The lame "pop or soda" question comes up. Gill's response, "I call it beer." Bravo Hal Gill.
13:26: Fedotenko tries to work the puck up the left wing and gets completely blasted by Mike Komisarek along the boards. What a check.
12:59: Andrei Kostitsyn tackles Sidney Crosby inside the Penguins' blue line. The officials call is cross checking. Either way, he's sitting for two minutes. Crosby, Sykora, Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney are on for the power play.
12:10: Crosby tries to force a pass from the side of the cage to Whitney coming in from the left point. Koivu makes a nice play and breaks up the pass. The puck clears the zone.
11:28: With an offsides call, the Penguins' jay-vee power play comes on with Miroslav Satan, Jordan Staal, Fedotenko, Mark Eaton and Brooks Oprik.
10:56: Kostitsyn's penalty expires.We just realized we don't have to spell out Andrei Kostitsyn and Sergei Kostitsyn tonight because Sergei's been banished to Hamilton of the AHL. Thank you Bob Gainey.
10:34: Fleury grabs a shot from the right wing and freezes play.
9:33: A puck on net creates a dirty goal. Malkin enters the offensive zone and zips a slick pass to Chris Minard on the left wing. Minard takes a shot from a tough angle. Price makes a save but gives up a less than stellar rebound. Sykora jumps on it and punches it by Price's glove hand on the far side. No such thing as a bad shot on net right? Minard and Malkin get the assists. Anyone who doesn't understand the idea of secondary assist in hockey should re-watch Malkin's pass on that play. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
8:34: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
7:54: Cooke enters the offensive zone with the puck and leaves a drop pass for Gill. Gill steps up and blasts a slapper with his pool skimmer of a stick. Price makes the save but can't cleanly glove it. The rebound trickles to the side of the cage.
6:58: Satan zips a shot from the right boards. Price kicks it out.
6:50: A PSA for getting a passport is played on the video board during a commercial stoppage. Thanks.
5:42: Malkin comes up the right wing against Roman Hamrlik, tries a spin move and whips a backhander wide of the cage.. Hey... if it worked last night against Hamrlik...
4:48: Markov gathers a loose puck at the top of the slot and directs a pass to Christopher Higgins to the left of the cage. Higgins clunks a shot off the post.
4:18: Cooke dumps a puck into the corner and chases after it. D'Agostini dumps him with a trip. No call.
4:02: Tyler Kennedy is nabbed for hooking. Two minutes. Dupuis, Maxime Talbot, Rob Scuderi and Gill are on for the penaly kill.
3:27: Mathieu Schneider cranks a slapper from the right point that misses the net.
3:11: A stoppage allows the Penguins to change players. Staal, Orpik, Cooke join Gill.
2:02: Kennedy's penalty is killed. Not a lot going on there for Montreal.
1:09: Malkin comes up the right wing, plays hot potatoe with Gonchar. They make one pass to many as Gonchar allows it to by the blue line. He tries to pull it back but he's called for offsides.
0:30: Satan gets his second soft shot on net as he pushes a backhander from the slot which Price steers away with ease.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Canadiens 0.
-Nice first period under the Bylsma administration. We'll consider the first "real" game under Bylsma since he wasn't even afforded the luxury of a morning skate on Monday. The Penguins just seemed to have more focus and were a little bit more aggressive.
-The Penguins have an 8-3 lead in shots.
-Gill actually leads the game with two shots.
-Apparently one of Satan's "shots" was so pathetic, the scorekeepers wouldn't even give him credit for it.
-Montreal has a pretty large lead in faceoffs, 15-5 (75 percent).
-Kyle Chipchura is 4-for-4 (100 percent).
-Bill Thomas is ... Ohhhhh... wait....
-Crosby is 2-for-4 (50 percent).
-Schneider leads the game with 8:43 of ice time.
-Gonchar leads the Penguins with 7:43.
-Sykora is right behind him with 7:42.
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
19:40: Francis Bouillon comes into the offensive zone and fires a slapper. Orpik is there to get a piece of it. The puck deflects into the netting.
18:50: Kostitsyn fires a loose puck from the left wing. Fleury kicks it out with his left leg.
17:33: One thing you have to like about Pascal Dupuis. He's one guy on this team who isn't afraid to shoot. He fires one from the red line long distance. Price makes the easy save.
15:30: Crosby glides up the right wing and centers a pass to Fedotenko in the slot. Fedotenko misfires a bit on a shot which goes on net but not with the zip he intended. It appears to hit a body in front, possibly Dupuis. Either way, the Penguins had a nice chance there.
14:54: Crosby gets a chance in close. Fedotenko moves a puck to him from the corner. From the right faceoff circle, Crosby turnes and punches a wrister on net. Price makes the save.
13:38: Off a turnover by Cooke in the offensive zone, Montreal ties the game. Cooke makes a bad pass in the offensive zone. The Canadiens come back up ice with it. Kostitsyn streaks down the left wing and leaves a nifty drop pass for Tomas Plekanec who steps up and sneaks a shot by Fleury on the stick side. Kostitsyn gets the only assist. Canadiens 1, Penguins 1.
13:09: Higgins tries to jam one in on a wraparound. Fleury stretches out and prevents the goal with his left foot.
12:58: Malkin comes up on a two-on-one with Satan. Malkin keeps the puck and snaps a high wrister which Price knocks away.
12:35: Eaton slides a puck to Whitney at the right point. Whitney blasts a one-timer. Satan is in front and gets a piece of the puck just enough to re-direct it by Price who looked lost on the play. Those are two players who needed that goal. Whitney and Eaton get assists. "Hey Song." Penguins 2-1.
11:50: Orpik is called for hooking. Gill, Scuderi, Cooke and Staal are on for the penalty kill.
10:31: Markov takes a pass from Schneider, moves in from the left point and rips a wrister which rattles off the boards behind the net.
9:50: Orpik's penalty is killed.
9:30: HIggins tries to go one-on-one with Whitney. Whitney knocks him off the puck. Whitney's having a solid game so far.
8:29: Maxim Lapierre has a just fantastic chance in tight as he collects a puck off the backboards and controls it to the right of the Penguins' net. Just as Fleury's slide over Lapierre grips his stick a little tight and sends a seemingly easy wrister into the south F balcony. He had a goal there. A Habs employee in the box next to us utters a slight expletive and pounds his fist.
6:49: Pacioretty gets a puck in tight and puches a backhander on net. As Fleury makes the save, Pacioretty is dropped. Sykora is sent off for hooking. Staal, Oprik, Cooke and Eaton are on for the kill.
7:28: Attendance is announced as 16,968. It's the team's 96th consecutive sell out.
5:54: Schneider fires a slapper from the right point. Despite traffic. Fleury easily gloves it.
5:45: Play is stopped as Scuderi apparently got caught in the face with a high stick from Plekanec. No call.
5:10: Tough situation for the Penguins here as Talbot is called for slashing. He pretty much Paul Bunyoned Plekanec's stick and broke it. Five on three for 22 seconds. Eaton, Staal and Orpik are on for the kill.
4:56: Markov slide a pass to Schneider to the right point. Schneider hammers a one-timer that appears to get a get deflected and beats Fleury on the stick side. Sykora leaves the box. Talbot's penalty has 1:46 remaining. Kostitsyn and Markov get assists. Canadiens 2, Penguins 2.
3:22: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
3:10: Talbot's penalty expires. The Penguins were lucky to only give up one goal there.
2:48: Malkin tries to go one-on-one with Bouillion. He tries to do an "inside-out" move on Bouillion. Bouillion simply drops Malkin with a solid shoulder check. Fans boo, but it was a nice clean play.
2:13: Mike Komisarek steps up and throws a wrister on net. It hits a body in front and deflects away.
1:48: Crosby tries to go through a few Habs and gets dropped for his troubles by Hamrlik. That one was a little less legal.
0:58: Orpik looses a puck at the Montreal blue line then interferes with a defender chasing after it. No call. The officials have not had a great game tonight.
0:00: End of period. Canadiens 2, Penguins 2.
-A pretty even period all around. Each team generated its share of chances.
-The Penguins have a 16-11 lead in shots.
-Dupuis and Plekanec each lead the game with three shots.
-Montreal had a 25-15 advantage in faceoffs (63 percent).
-Plekanec is 8-for-12 (67 percent).
-Crosby is 7-for-12 (58 percent).
-Schneider leads the game with 17:27 of ice time.
-Orpik actually leads the Penguins with 14:58.
-Eaton leads the game with three blocked shots.
-No one for Montreal has more than one.
-A good thing when a Canadian team rolls into town with the CBC, you get the HNIC feed in the building:
-Ron MacLean and Kelly Hrudey are out on a some frozen pond somewhere above the 49th parallel with folks playing shinny. Nothing against Rob King or Jay Caufield, but we have our doubts you'll ever see them at Bladerunners in Harmarville doing that.
19:31: Oh wow.... What a marvelous goal! Fedotenko works the puck up the middle and dishes it to Crosby on his right wing. Crosby takes the puck and zips it over to Malkin coming in from the left wing. Malkin lunges and rips a wrister by Price on the stick side. Malkin slides into the board knees first pretty hard. Fans hold their breath a moment and erupt in celelbration when Malkin jumps up and begins celebrating like a wild man. What an awesome goal. Your turn Ovechkin. Crosby and Fedotenko get assists."Hey Song." Penguins 3-2.
17:22: Matheiu Dandeneault tries to sneak a puck by Fleury by giving him a piledriver. No dice. No call either.
17:00: Cooke pushes a shot wide of the cage. Staal reaches out and punches a shot on net. Pice makes the save initially. As two Habs wrestle for the rebound with Staal, Talbot sneaks in, drags the puck to the front of the cage and rips it by a lost Price just as the net gets knocked up off it's mooring's a bit. An official emphatically points at the net signaling the goal is good. The goal is unassisted. "Hey Song." Penguins 4-2.
16:47: Wow what let down. Kostitsyn gets a pass on the right wing, drags the puck inside Gill and uses him as a screen. He rips a wrister which Fleury looked completely lost on. That's not a good goal for Fleury to give up. That's Kostitsyn's fifth goal of the season against the Penguins this season. Pacioretty gets the only assist. This is too much to keep up with. Penguins 4-3.
16:04: Plekanec pumps a slapper on net. Fleury makes the save. The rebound pops up and falls into the crease. Fleury shuffles it away.
15:08: Satan has the puck behind the net and rips a wrister which Price punches away.
14:28: Pacioretty has a chance in tight. He makes a Jason Blake-esqe spin but can't beat Fleury. That was a defensive breakdown there. No one had Pacioretty there.
14:04: Minard carries the puck into the offensive zone and dishes a pass to Talbot on the left wing. Talbot chips a rising wrister which Price eats up.
13:29: Ugh... What a terrible goal to give up. Plekanec gets a pas on the left wing, winds up and rips a slapper by Fleury on the far glove side. Awful, awful awful goal for Fleury to allow. Fleury's having issues here. Pacioretty gets the assist. Canadiens 4, Penguins 4.
13:10: Dupuis snaps a wrister high.
12:42: This game is totally out of control. Fedotenko dishes a pass to Gonchar at the top of the slot. Gonchar survey's the situation, winds up a blasts a slapper just under Price's stick hand. It looked like Fedotenko had a nice screen set up in the slot. It's Gonchar's first goal of the season. Marc-Andre Fleury owes him a beer. Or Vodka. Or whatever Gonchar drinks. Fedotenko and Crosby get assists. "Hey Song." Penguins 5-4.
10:50: Staal punches a nice feed by Cooke just sied.
10:17: Gonchar snaps a wrister which sails just wide.
10:06: Oprik hammers a slapper from the top of the slot that hits a body and deflects wide.
9:45: Dandenault fires a slapper from the neutral zone. Fleury stops it dead. He's given some Bronx cheers.
9:26: Higgins zips a pass to D'Agostini on the left wing. D'Agostini has a clear path to the net but can't beat Fleury. Big save for Fleury there.
7:41: Dupuis collects a puck in the corner and tries to jam it by Price. No deal.
7:18: With a stoppage (FINALLY) Orpik and Lapierre get into a bit of scrap. A scrum develops. "Cotton Eyed Joe is busted out:
6:51: Plekanec zips a wrister on net from the left wing. A scoring change was made on third Montreal goal. Plekanec and Hamrlik were awarded assists.
6:21: Staal has a prime chance in tight butMakrov makes a nice play to gets his stick on Staal's shot
5:44: Pacioretty rips a wrister from the slot that misses the net.
5:07: Malkin dishes a pass to Sykora on the right wing. The puck may have been bouncing a bit as Sykora whiffs on his shot attempt.
4:01: Dupuis whips a spinning backhander into the slot. Fedotekno is there but can't punch it by Price.
3:52: Kostopoulos runs into Fleury behind the Penguins' net. No call.
3:26: Cooke and Markov have a bit of a car wreck in the left faceoff circle.
3:12: Staal fires a shot in tight wide.
2:54: The Penguins are not sitting back on their lead as Orpik was in deep on a rush towards the Montreal net. How refreshing to see.
2:09: From his knees, Kostitsyn tries to jam a one-timer by Fleury. Fleury holds his ground.
1:36: Plekanec blasts a one-timer from the left faceoff circle. Fleury fights it off.
0:57: Price tries to leave his net but a rush up ice by the Penguins chase him back to his net.
0:36: Price is finally pulled for an extra attacker.
0:19: Gonchar has a brain cramp as he whips a puck off the side of his net. That had to scare Fleury for a moment.
0:00: End of game. The "Wooo Hooo!" song is played. Penguins 5, Canadiens 4.
-Angels and Airwaves' "The Adventure" plays fans off into the streets:
-Heck of a game tonight. It was probably way too sloppy on defense for either coach, but the fans got their money's worth tonight. Both teams are fighting for playoff spots and they played like it. When teams play desperate, the fans are the one who benefit.
-How big of a win was this for the Penguins? The move up closer to the pack for those last seeds in the Eastern Conference, and they dug the Canadiens' hole a little deeper in the process.
-That said, what happened to Marc-Andre Fleury in the third? The last thing the Penguins need is him melting down like that. Hopefully for them, that was just a hiccup.
-We guess Gonchar answered any questions about his shot. It looked pretty darn good on that goal he scored.
-The Penguins are now 1-0-0 with Kris Letang scratched in the Dan Bylsma era. We suggest the Penguins never play him again.
-Whitney played a improved game we felt. He just seemed a little bit more composed tonight.
-Fedotenko was pretty strong in our opinion too. He had two assists but even beyond that, he was really involved with the offense quite a bit tonight. He went to the net, set up screens and just seemed to mesh well with Crosby and Malkin at times.
-Are we the only ones who felt Jordan Staal played a strong game?
-Staal and Cooke were ultimately awarded assists for Talbot's goal.
-Crosby had an assist taken away from him on Gonchar's goal.
-He did get a nifty Hockey Night in Canada Towel from Elliotte Friedman however:
-The Penguins ended up with a 28-27 advantage in shots.
-Pascal Dupuis led the game with seven shots. Geez.
-D'Agostini, Kostitsyn and Plekanec led Montreal with four each.
-Montreal had a 30-24 advantage in shots (56 percent).
-Saku Koivu was 14-for-18 (78 percent). Other than that, he didn't do too much tonight. He was a minus-3.
-Crosby was 12-for-17 (71 percent).
-Glass is half-full for Mathieu Schneider: He led the game with 24:17 of ice time.
-Glass is half-empty for Mathieu Schneider: He was a game-worst minus-4.
-Gonchar led the Penguins with 22:20 of ice time. Slowly but surely, he's getting his minutes back to where they should be.
-Eaton led the game with three blocked shots.
-Josh Gorges led Montreal with two.
-Since it was asked in the comments, Dallas and Toronto were the only teams with scouts in the press box tonight.
-The Penguins got a lot of help tonight for once as both Buffalo and Florida lost. Carolina did win however.
-Talbot passed up four players to move into 94th all-time on the list. He now has 72 points. He passed Darryl Edestrand, Kip Miller, Mark Taylor and Bryan Trottier. All five have the same amout of points but Talbot has more goals (36) than the other four.
-Ryan Whitney scored his 150th career point.
-Gonchar's last goal was in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, a 5-3 defeat of the Senators, April 11, 2008.
-His last regular season goal was in a 4-2 defeat of the Flyers that clinched the Atlantic Division title for the Penguins, April 2, 2008.
-Satan scored his first goal since a 5-4 loss at Toronto Jan. 31.
-Whatever is wrong with the Canadiens, it's not Kostitsyn. He has scored a goal in fourth consecutive games. Over that span he has seven points (four goals, three assists) Additionally, he now has seven points (five goals, two assists).
-Malkin apparently told a reporter with certain total media company in town that the Penguins don't have an advantage on the ice when he's on the ice with Crosby at the same time. When asked his reaction to that statement, Dany Bylsma paused a bit and said, "That's why Geno's a player and not a coach."
-Dan Bylsma +1.
-Francis Bouillon apparently suffered a leg injury of some sort tonight.
-You think the Penguins have had a rough stretch as of late? Tonight's loss ended a six-game road trip for the Habs in which they collected three out of a possible 12 points. Yeouch.
-Price suffered his first career loss against the Penguins.
-Fleury got his first win against the Canadiens since a 6-3 home victory, March 16, 2007. Crosby and Erik Christensen each had two goals for the Penguins.