TORONTO — It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Pittsburgh Penguins earned a playoff spot in the regular season. The Montreal Canadiens didn’t even have players report to Montreal for the start of Phase 2 workouts. And yet Montreal with extraordinary performances by Carey Price, while the Penguins have endured sloppy play by numerous lines, pairings, and a couple of soft goals. The Penguins blew a two-goal lead and perhaps their season with a 4-3 loss on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
The Penguins will now face elimination on Friday afternoon. Montreal leads the best-of-five-games series 2-1.
Midway through the third period, Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was left to stare at the scoreboard waiting for a replay. He had a golden scoring chance on Price, but Price again made the save.
Carey Price was a running theme, again.
But the Penguins also blew a 3-1 lead and earned every bit of the loss. Montreal had the better offensive play, in addition to better defense and goaltending.
“I think (we have to do a better job) of holding onto pucks in their zone,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “We did a better job of that in the first two games than (Game 3). We’ve got to do a better job of putting them in their own zone. Creating that way and hopefully drawing some penalties.”
Much will be made of the Penguins third pairing with Jack Johnson and Justin Schultz. And there should be. We’ll get to that.
“We might have been guilty of getting too lose there, and (the Montreal Canadiens) were opportunistic,” Sidney Crosby said.
The short story is, the Penguins had a 3-1 lead, then they gave it away with sloppy play, missed assignments, and Montreal didn’t quit. The Penguins’ terrible playoff performances over the past few years are starting to pile up. They’re as bad as they are bewildering.