It's late March, and Brian Gionta has fired the shot to start a war that may come full circle in late May. Late in the second period, TK and Gionta drove to the Pens' net. TK went careening into Fleury's head. MAF did not return for the third. Those are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed.
We will say one thing, that the images up in the scoreboard supports. The Pens went into the locker room during the second intermission and undoubtedly talked to TK and watch the tape of the play. For them to come out in the third like they did, it shows what they thought happened on the play. And they are the actual hockey players. Their opinions are the only ones that count, not the opinions of Internet warriors.
The incident overshadowed the game Fleury was playing, the goal Sidney Crosby scored, the debut of Brenden Morrow, and the winning streak reaching 13 games. In a weird twist of fate, it also overshadowed Vokoun being able to step in and bring the boys home in a tight one-goal game against a top team in the East.
It also overshadowed how good of a defensive hockey game this was. Montreal owned much of the game, but the Pens were able to take advantage of one mistake and buried the Habs.
The Pens are now an insane 11-1-0 in one-goal games.
And they are now 7 points up in the East, although there are some games in hand floating around.
In the meantime, we got a recap...
It felt like a playoff game from the drop of puck, only no one told the Pens. The Habs came in ready for this dance. They almost scored after Fleury kind of mishandled a puck. The Habs were everywhere, throwing the body around, too.That eventually led to a fight between Gabriel Dumont and TK:
The fight didn't do much to wake up the Pens. A couple of clusterfucks in their own zone, and Ryder had a golden chance in a golden spot but hit the far post on a shot. Engo and Jeffrey looked really bad, colliding in front.
Pens had a tribute video prepared for Therrien. Slow clap.
Pittsburgh media not impressed:
Tribute video for Therrien continues Pens' strange tradition of saluting those who left for money, got fired, etc. No 3rd Cup if he stayed
The Pens couldn't get anything going because the Habs move the puck like nobody's business in their own zone. That right there is half the battle against the Pens' waves of forecheckers.
Tanner Glass had a rough period.
Subban was getting booed every time he touched the puck. We can only assume Brenden Morrow was thinking all Pens fans are racist.
Around the 13-minute mark Crosby came flying through the neutral zone, and that seemed to at least wake up the Pens a little bit.
The Pens closed out the period a little better, but the Habs carried the play. Pens had a few giveaways, and the Habs had none. Subban and Crosby started battling, as well. Huge matchup all night for those two.
Pens still weren't connecting with hardly any passes at the beginning of the second. It was looking really strange.
MAF was sharp.
Crosby and Subban continued their rumble.
Tanner Glass had this turnover:
Glass is a big-time risk right now. Not even trying to pick on him. Just can't do that shit in the playoffs.
The one constant pretty much all game was the slimy Canadiens getting good scoring chances. Ryder got behind Engelland, and it looked like a sure goal, but it hit the crossbar.
Ryder was rewarded for all of his close calls by getting called for jobbing Martin. Pens' PP was mud.
Apparently the officials thought the Ryder thing warranted a makeup call, which came when Mark Eaton was deemed to have intentionally thrown the net off the pegs. Stupid call. Ref's brother is probably a Jean Beliveau apologist. Pens killed it.
The Habs didn't stop coming. Just relentless. But the Pens kept holding on, waiting for a chance to get something going. After a TV timeout with under 10:00 to play, the Pens slowly started to get back into the game. Couple of good shifts, and the Habs seemed to lose a little juice.
Finally, they got their best scoring chance of the whole game. Kunitz fed Sid with a 60-foot rocket launch on the tape. Dupuis lured a defenseman completely across the ice, freeing up Crosby during a Habs line change. It was all a symphony of movement that Jay Caufield broke down in the post-game.
Crosby flew into the zone and sniped Price.
Fine line between being elite and being a normal player. Crosby right now is as elite as we've seen him. Price said after the game "About five millimeters was the difference in the game tonight."
Apparenly that fine line is five millimeters thick. What a shot.
The Crosby goal didn't break the Canadiens, in our opinion. But the save Marc-Andre Fleury made on the Habs immediately following the goal did:
Habs score there, and this may have turned into some kind of shootout.
After some more shit, Adams took a puck to the face:
The chances started coming in waves for the Pens after the Crosby goal. Sutter had the best chance walking in close on Price.
At the end of the period, all the trades and excitement of the past couple days were a distant memory when Brian Gionta pushed TK into MAF's head, and MAF was down for a long time. He shook out the cobwebs. But holy shit.
MAF didn't look right.
He turned to Vokoun while walking off the ice for the second intermission.
Notice Cooke right behind Fleury.
Is there a reason Paul Alexander is orange?
Right off the bat, cameras captured the Pens bench chirping Gionta. All that was missing was Douglas Murray showing up in street clothes and hitting Gionta with a chair.
Cooke starts the period across from Gionta. He chopped at Gionta a little too much and went to the box. But it was like the Pens' penalty killers wanted it to happen. They killed the penalty with ease.
Vokoun had to be sharp early and often.
Play settled in for a while, until P.K. Subban interfered with Morrow. The Habs thought they had scored, but it was disallowed because of the Subban penalty. The power play was good and had a chance late after a Montreal player lost his stick. Letang kind of blew a pass. though, and the Habs killed it.
As time ticked away, the Pens clogged up the neutral zone and gave the Habs nothing. Vokoun was there for any shots that snaked their way to him. Crosby and Gionta shared some whacks after a whistle. We'd GIF it, but there's nothing there.
The fourth line had an emotional shift with under 2 minutes to play, killing some precious time. Gionta kept trolling everyone. Subban didn't come off the ice.
After a late Montreal timeout, the Habs had one more chance. The defense buckled down, and Vokoun made a save or two as the clock hit all zeroes.
Morrow only saw 12:55 in his first game. Hard to judge. though.
-- Officiating in this one seemed a little off.
-- James Neal slumping. And the Pens have won 13 straight. Think about that one.
-- The report of Letang re-injuring himself is what it is. 24 minutes of ice time. Looked like he was full throttle all game.