Sabourin Shuts Out Montreal, Penguins Grab Atlantic Lead

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their 1st Sid-less game in the Crosby Era on Saturday night as they shutout the Canadiens 2-0 in Montreal.  Pittsburgh netminder Dany Sabourin picked up his 2nd career shutout as turned aside 31 shots in his first start in the last 12 Penguins’ outings (since Dec 21st).  His first career shutout came earlier this season against the New Jersey Devils on November 5th.  The win elevated the Penguins into sole possession of 1st place in the Atlantic Division and 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the New Jersey Devils.  It was also the first time the Penguins have posted a win without Crosby in the lineup, improving that record to 1-2-2.

Just 14 seconds into the 1st period, Penguins forward Colby Armstrong was checked by Roman Hamrlik, fell to the ice and slid hard into the end boards in the same manner and location that Sidney Crosby did the night before.  Armstrong immediately left the ice in pain, but returned for a brief stint later in the game.  After returning to the game, he played a short shift and then left the game for good with a reported bruised hip.  At 6:14, Jeff Taffe scored his 2nd goal of the season after taking a Georges Laraque pass from behind the net and wristing it over the shoulder of Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet.  Jarkko Ruutu was credite with the other assist.  The Penguins killed off the only penalty of the period (Laraque, elbowing), and were outshot 9-6. 

In the 2nd, the Canadiens poured it on and outshot the Penguins 17-9.  However, Montreal was unable to get one past Sabourin, who played a near perfect game.  The Penguins were 0-for-2 on the power play and killed off their only short-handed situation.  Neither team scored on a 2-minute 4-on-4 as Streit (holding) and Ruutu (diving) were given matching penalties. 

In the 3rd, the Penguins regained the momentum and offensive edge as they outshot the Canadiens 11-5.  However, the Penguins were unable to beat Huet.  With 1:11 left in the game, Montreal pulled their goaltender to try and get the equalizer.  Evgeni Malkin threw the puck at the empty net from his own blueline and hit the post with about a minute to go, but failed to get the insurance marker.  The with 12.4 seconds left in the game at the end of a long shift, Malkin out-hustled a Canadien player to chase down a cleared puck and backhanded it into the empty net from a sharp angle to seal the victory.  Petr Sykora picked up the assist.  The goal was was only fitting for Malkin, who played one of his most dominating games of the year and proved that he was the on-ice leader for the Penguins in Sid’s absence.  What he couldn’t communicate to his teammates in English, he demonstrated in his level of play and determination.

Sidney Crosby didn’t travel with the team to Montreal and was examined Saturday by the team’s medical staff.  No prognosis for Crosby’s return will be made until the swelling subsides sometime next week.

The Penguins return to Pittsburgh where they will host the Washington Capitals on Monday night at Mellon Arena. 

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