The Pittsburgh Penguins earned two points with emphasis on earned in a 3-2 OT win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at the Bell Centre. The Penguins were not always clean and certainly had some execution issues against the Montreal structure, but goalie Matt Murray submitted one of his best performances of the season and the Penguins grinders added the offense for a much-needed win.
It was the first Penguins win since All-Star Jake Guentzel was lost for the season due to shoulder surgery on Tuesday morning. The Penguins have scored just four regulation goals in the last two games but won three of the possible four points.
Dominik Kahun changed the Penguins top line when he replaced Alex Galchenyuk with Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin. The line created many of the Penguins 14 third period scoring chances and tilted the ice. The line also scored the game-tying goal in the third period.
The resiliency is phenomenal with this group. It starts with our leadership,” Brandon Tanev said.
Given the Penguins preexisting handicaps; they’re playing without two-thirds of their top line and two of their four top defensemen, offense now appears to be at a premium for the Penguins. More specifically, finishing ability is scarce.
“We’re one shot away from the tying goal. It may take us 15 minutes to get it, 18 minutes to get it, 5 minutes to get it,” head coach Mike Sullivan said he told his team during the second intermission. “We have to continue playing the game that is bringing us success.”
The Penguins leaned on goalie Matt Murray and for the first time in perhaps two months, he gave the Penguins what they needed (more in the report card). Murray’s last very good start was in early November. He denied more than a handful of Grade A chances on Saturday night and Arturi Lehkonen could have had five goals, instead of just two.
“It wasn’t pretty, but that’s one of those road wins you just do whatever it takes,” said Penguins goalie Matt Murray who made 26 saves in the win.
For those into the data-driven stories, the Penguins had eight scoring chances in each of the first and second periods but had just Zach Aston-Reese’s slick goal to show for it. The Penguins had 14 scoring chances in the third period and needed Bryan Rust’s game-tying goal in the middle of the period to force overtime.
The Penguins grind line was very good at creating those turnovers and chances. Another line was a barrel full of giveaways and takeaways, and a couple of defensemen had a couple of moments which probably made head coach Mike Sullivan’s stomach twist.