EditorsNote: adds new third graf
Montoya, Canadiens blank Penguins
MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are used to their starting goaltender giving them a chance to win. Only these days, it’s been Al Montoya who’s been making save after save to keep them in games.
Montoya, making his third straight start while No. 1 netminder Carey Price recovers from an illness, stopped all 36 shots he faced to help the Canadiens to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
Canadiens center David Desharnais scored twice in the victory.
“I feel like I’ve been trying to make a statement for a while,” said Montoya, who earned his sixth career shutout and first since Dec. 31, 2013, against the Buffalo Sabres. “For me it’s just an opportunity to play. I don’t try to overdo anything. I come out here, have fun and play my game and let the rest take care of itself.”
Max Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov also scored for Montreal (2-0-1), which earned the 3,300th win in the franchise’s NHL history.
Marc-Andre Fleury, making his second start in as many nights, stopped 28 shots as the Penguins (2-1-1) lost for the first time in regulation.
Pacioretty got the crowd roaring just 23 seconds into the first period. Jeff Petry found the left winger in the high slot, and Pacioretty skated just inside the left circle before sniping home his first of the season. The goal set a team record for fastest goal in a Canadiens home opener, breaking Bobby Rousseau’s previous best of 25 seconds, set in 1964-65.
But while Montreal led on the scoreboard, the Penguins started to take over as the period went on. Midway through the period, the visitors held an 11-4 edge on the Canadiens on the shot clock. By the end of the first 20 minutes, Pittsburgh had tossed 17 shots Montoya’s way (to 13 for Montreal).
“We always need our goalie,” Desharnais said. “We’re a team that relies a lot on our goalie, and Al did in an incredible job tonight and in the first two games, too.”
The Penguins had their chances, with home side falling into penalty trouble in the first two periods but could only muster three shots on four opportunities, including a double-minor.
“We weren’t sharp,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Our zone entries weren’t clean and we didn’t make good decisions with the puck. Our power play was good at the start of this young season but not tonight.”
Desharnais doubled Montreal’s lead at 12:07 of the second period. Pacioretty picked up a loose puck after Andrew Shaw forced a turnover on the forecheck and sent a no-look backhand pass to Desharnais, who was left all alone in front of Fleury.
Referees were busy early in the third, calling seven infractions in a span of a minute and a half within the first five minutes of the period. The bulk of the calls went against the Penguins.
“We have to be more disciplined,” Sullivan said. “We can’t be taking all these penalties night after night and hope for a good result. We’re putting ourselves in a tough situation. But in the first half of the game, we had the majority of the power plays and our power play didn’t execute. That could have made the difference but we didn’t get the job done.”
Radulov brought about chants of “Radu! Radu! Radu!” from the crowd on a Canadiens power play at 4:31 of third period. Alex Galchenyuk sent a perfect feed through the neutral zone to Radulov, who skated into the Penguins’ end, outwaited the Pittsburgh defenseman who dropped to the ice to block the shot, and then skated over to the left circle before firing it past Fleury.
“I had a good pass from Chucky, and Gally (Brendan Gallagher) was driving the net,” Radulov explained. “I just cut to the middle and took a shot, and it went in.”
Desharnais picked up his second of the night at 13:44 of the third after Fleury stopped several shots in close. Andrei Markov found Petry along the right boards, and the Canadiens defenseman then quickly sent it off to Desharnais on the left edge of the crease.
“They were waiting for us,” said Fleury. “But, we’ll have games like this during the season. We have to find a way to keep our game simple to get the two points.”
NOTES: Penguins RW Bryan Rust returned to the lineup after missing his team’s first three games with injury. ... After sitting the first two games as a healthy scratch, Montreal C/W Brian Flynn made his season debut, while rookie D Mikhail Sergachev returned to the lineup after being scratched on Saturday night. ... LW Daniel Carr, D Greg Pateryn and D Zach Redmond were scratched for the Canadiens. ... Pittsburgh scratched C Sidney Crosby (concussion), LW Tom Sestito and D Derrick Pouliot. ... Seven Habs players skated in their first home opener at the Bell Centre: Sergachev, D Shea Weber, RW Alexander Radulov, RW Andrew Shaw, rookie LW Artturi Lehkonen and LW Phillip Danault.