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Squandered Chances, Penguins Lose Game 1 to Montreal 3-2

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Pittsburgh Penguins Scotiabank Arena: Photo by Rob Simpson. All Right Reserved

(TORONTO, ON) — The Pittsburgh Penguins failed to score on a 92-second five-on-three early in the third period, Carey Price made a diving stop on Sidney Crosby who had an open net, and Conor Sheary missed a late third period penalty shot a moment later. The Penguins dominated overtime but Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray late in the first OT for a 3-2 Montreal win at the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night.

The hockey gods gave the Penguins plenty of opportunities to win, though Price took many away. Jonathan Drouin had both a breakaway and a penalty shot in overtime but he missed too.

In the first period, those who feared Montreal goalie Carey Price realized their fears may have been well-founded. The Penguins fired 18 shots on Price in the first period, including a few point-blank chances but Price steered them away.

Kris Letang had four shots in the opening 20 minutes, and Evgeni Malkin had three.

Montreal earned the first goal of the series midway through the first period. Brett Kulak’s point shot hit bodies in the slot, including Montreal forward Paul Byron, and fluttered towards Penguins goalie Matt Murray. The puck caromed off Murray, off falling Montreal rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi and into the net.

Fluky goals count, too.

Montreal also put a healthy dose of fear into the Penguins with another goal nearly seven minutes into the second period. Montreal rookie Nick Suzuki stripped Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin at the offensive blue-line and streaked the length of the ice for a two-on-one. Suzuki snapped a top-shelf wrister over Murray’s shoulder.

And Montreal led 2-0.

Pittsburgh Penguins Comeback

However, it was a bookend to the first period, when the Penguins dominated play but trailed. In the second period, Montreal largely had the better chances and more puck possession. Midway through the period, Montreal had an 8-2 shot advantage, but the Penguins scored a pair of goals to erase the Montreal lead.

The first Penguins player to the rescue was, of course, Sidney Crosby, who dominated a shift in the middle of the second period. Crosby stole a few pucks, including one below the goal line. With a delayed penalty pending, Montreal Defenseman Xavier Ouellette tried to touch the puck to stop the play. Crosby picked Ouellett’s stick and quickly snapped the puck towards the net before Price was in position.

Crosby (1) scored the type of bank shot goal he’s scored 100 times before to blunt the Montreal advantage.

Just a couple of minutes later, the Penguins second power-play unit tied the game. As Price and Montreal’s defensemen focused on Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust (1) chipped the loose puck into the net.

Despite Montreal owning play for much of the period, the Penguins scored a pair of goals in the blink of an eye. The goals lifted the Penguins, which earned six shots and a few more scoring chances towards the end of the period.

According to the advanced stats at NaturalStatTrick.com, the Pittsburgh Penguins relatively dominated scoring chances and possession throughout the game.

The third period was a cavalcade of missed Penguins opportunities.y  The Penguins squandered a five-on-three early in the third period. The Penguins fired the puck wide and failed to get enough traffic in front of Price. The Penguins didn’t get much pressure in another third-period power play and missed a pair of golden opportunities late in the period.

Conor Sheary was awarded a penalty shot after he was hooked on a breakaway. However, before Montreal could touch the puck, Sidney Crosby fired a puck towards a yawning cage without precision, but Price dove back to the crease to make the save.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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