Penguins: Loss a blip on radar as Montreal goals deflate Fleury lateCFB WEEK 6 2010 CFB 2010 WEEK 5
October 10, 2010 8:00 AM
Peter Diana / Post-Gazette
Max Talbot, right, squares off with Montreal's Maxim Lapierre Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.
Former teammate Hal Gill of the Canadiens knocks Sidney Crosby off the puck in front of the Montreal net Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Six months from now, when the regular season is winding down, this game will have been forgotten.
Perhaps people will recall some of the more gory details but odds are only a few will.
For now, with their come-from-ahead 3-2 loss to Montreal at the Consol Energy Center Saturday night so raw, so fresh, it was pretty tough to salve the sting of surrendering two points to the Canadiens in the final two-plus minutes of regulation.
After all, Mark Letestu had broken a 1-1 tie and given the Penguins their first lead in their new building when he beat Canadiens goalie Carey Price from inside the left dot at 8:42 of the third.
The Penguins subsequently had a couple of opportunities to pad their lead, but couldn't. Didn't figure to matter, though, at least until a double-deflection by Jeff Halpern and Mike Cammalleri at 17:48 tied the game and seemed likely to force overtime.
Until 24 seconds later, anyway, when Scott Gomez slid a puck between goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's legs from below the left dot for the goal that decided the outcome.
"Since it's the baseball playoffs, I kind of threw a change-up in there," Gomez said.
An interesting description, considering that many of the Penguins looked as if they'd just taken a fastball between the eyes in the minutes following the game.
Fleury adjourned to the training room and declined to speak with reporters, a rare move for one of the Penguins' most media friendly players.
Of course, there wasn't necessarily a lot for Fleury to say.
While his teammates absolved him of responsibility for Gomez's game-winner, pointing to breakdowns in the Penguins' forecheck, the simple truth is that those happen at the other end of the ice, and Fleury could -- and should -- stop Gomez's shot every time it comes at him.
Doesn't matter if he's blindfolded, or has his arms tied behind his back. A puck moving at that speed, from that spot on the ice, is one that he has to save. Period.
"Obviously, the third goal is not a good goal," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
The defeat leaves the Penguins 0-2 in their new home, with a pair of 3-2 losses to show for the past three days of work.
Cammalleri, who the Penguins held to mere seven goals in seven second-round playoff games this spring, didn't need long to get up to his goal-per-game pace, as he buried a Tomas Plekanec set-up behind Fleury at 15:24 of the opening period.
He accelerated the pace when he got his stick on Halpern's tip of a Josh Gorges shot with little more than two minutes to go in regulation for his second of the evening.
Until then, it had looked as if Letestu, who grew up a Montreal fan, just might have gotten the goal that would settle the outcome. That puck would have made a heck of a souvenir for his father out on the Canadian prairies.
"I didn't quite think it was the game-winner," Letestu said. "It's the one that put us a goal ahead at the time. They're a good team. They kept pushing."
After Cammalleri gave Montreal a 1-0 lead, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby teamed up to score the tying goal and record their first points of the season.
Just as a four-on-three power play expired, Malkin took a cross-ice feed from Crosby and put a shot off Price's glove and into the net to make it 1-1 40 seconds into the second.
Crosby and Malkin combined for nine of the Penguins' 38 shots, and Malkin had an opportunity in the third to put the Penguins up by two but failed to beat Price.
"We had our chances," Crosby said. "I don't think we can look at [Gomez's] goal and say that's the difference. We had our chances to get more of a lead and put them away, and we didn't do it."
And so their first victory in their new home has been put off until at least Wednesday, when Toronto comes to town. No one suggests the Maple Leafs' roster is the equal of the Penguins, but that reality isn't reflected in the standings today.
"They don't just hand us victories," center Max Talbot said. "We're going to have to be good."
Better than they were when it mattered most Saturday night, anyway.