PITTSBURGH - Sidney Crosby said the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t do anything special.
That cannot be a comforting thought for the Montreal Canadiens.
Crosby and his Penguins went a perfect 4-for-4 on the power play Friday night in their 6-3 victory over the Habs in the first game of the their Eastern Conference semifinal.
On its own, it’s a staggering performance.
Throw in the fact it came on the heels of the Canadiens killing 32-of-33 power plays for the Washington Capitals in the opening round - the Caps had the best power play in the regular season - and it is a huge statement right out of the gate.
“We didn’t do anything special. We made plays and capitalized on the chances we had. That’s what it came down to,” said Crosby, who set up power-play goals by Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski.
“I think we gave ourselves a good chance of doing that though. We entered the puck well, we controlled it well there and shot it when we had opportunities to shoot, all the things that we need to have success. They are not always going to go in like that, you are not always going to go 4-for-4.”
Now the Canadiens, who had a quick turnaround from their Game 7 upset of the top-seeded Caps, will have Saturday to take a look at what the Penguins did so well and make adjustments.
Game 2 is Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Penguins moved the puck around on the power play and created shooting lanes, something the Caps were incapable of doing.
“Their power play it’s ... good,” said Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill. “We have to be better. It’s not a set play. There’s just puck movement that we have to be aware of.”
“I don’t think it was a matter of Xs and Os. It’s clearing pucks when we have the chance,” said Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges.
“It’s a lot of stops and starts for the killers and that’s why when we have opportunities to clear loose pucks, to jump on loose pucks, we have to get it down 200 feet. We can’t give guys like that second opportunities because they’re just too good.”
The Canadiens will find out Saturday the severity of the knee injury suffered by top defenceman Andrei Markov, just another challenge to go with facing the top-ranked Caps and now the defending champion Penguins.
“That’s okay with us. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Gorges. “No one in this room thought we were going to sweep these guys in four. We knew it was going to be a long series. We want to drag out, we want to try and wear them down. I thought we did a lot of that tonight. Five-on-five, we did a lot of good things (Friday night).”