Canadiens fail to support Price in Game 2 loss to Penguins

Aug 4 2020, 3:28 am

After a dramatic overtime win on Saturday night, the Montreal Canadiens came in to Game 2 on Monday with a chance to really raise some eyebrows and put the heavily-favoured Pittsburgh Penguins on the brink of elimination.

Penguins may by flightless birds, but the ones from Pittsburgh came out of the gates flying on Monday. The Canadiens needed some terrific goaltending from Carey Price to weather the early storm.

With the Pens trailing in a short series, Price and the Habs had to be ready for them to come out with an even greater sense of urgency in Game 2.

Sure enough, just 4:25 into the game, Sidney Crosby broke away from Joel Armia, Jake Guentzel found him streaking to the net, and the Penguins captain went five-hole on Price for his second goal in as many games this series.

It was an ugly first period for the Canadiens. They were outshot 14-7, took a pair of too many men penalties, and had a power play of their own end prematurely thanks to a holding penalty by Armia, who in particular had a period to forget. The only good news was that they were only down 1-0.

Montreal’s parade to the penalty box continued in the second period, including two more penalties by Armia. A Paul Byron slashing penalty with just under five minutes to go set the Penguins up with 26 seconds of a 5-on-3, causing Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan to call his timeout, hoping to convert on the opportunity.

Price and the Montreal penalty kill continued to stand tall, though, keeping Pittsburgh from extending its lead. The Habs were again fortunate to reach the second intermission still only down 1-0, having been outshot 15-6 in the middle frame — though when you spend so much of the game shorthanded, that’s going to happen.

The goal for the Habs heading into the third period should have been clear: Stay out of the penalty box, and get some pucks on Matt Murray, the Pittsburgh goaltender who had a rough season but who the Habs made work very little over the first 40 minutes of this game.

They were able to stay out of the box and play a better period in the third. However, they couldn’t solve Murray, and at 14:41 of the frame, Jason Zucker provided the dagger.

To the Habs’ credit, they didn’t quit after Zucker’s goal. Instead, they put on a frantic push, and were able to pull back within a goal thanks to Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s second goal of the series with 2:09 to go.

The Canadiens were unable to push across the tying goal, though, and Guentzel added a late empty netter to give the Penguins a 3-1 win.

The silver lining for the Habs here is that if you told them they were going to split the first two games of this series and Price — who made 35 saves tonight — would be playing like a goalie who’s capable of stealing this series, they surely would have taken that. However, he can’t do literally everything by himself, and his team needs to do more to support him — like, say, scoring more goals and taking fewer penalties.

The best-of-five series is tied 1-1, and the Canadiens will now shift over to the home bench for Games 3 and 4. The puck will drop for Game 3 at 8 pm ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Wednesday.

Jack WeberJack Weber

+ Offside
+ Hockey