Pens looking on the bright side of loss

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:59 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins frustrated?

Nah.

Despite what your eyes told you - Penguins captain Sidney Crosby furiously smashing his stick against the post to the left of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak and then hurling the shaft against the boards - the Penguins would have you believe all is just fine after their 3-1 loss to the Habs on Sunday.

It cost the Penguins home ice advantage in their Eastern Conference semifinal, now tied 1-1.

“He was probably frustrated that referees probably didn’t call any calls first two periods,” said Halak. “It’s part of the game.”

“I’m not saying that we were (frustrated),” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. “I’m just saying we expected games like that where the goaltender plays well and the defence plays like it did... it’s a race to four and you have to keep focused on playing your game and getting there. We expected them to play like this and have games like this in the series.”

It wasn’t a great afternoon for Crosby. He had only one shot and wound up minus-2 after being late to check Montreal centre Scott Gomez on the endboards in the Pittsburgh zone - Gomez passed to Brian Gionta for Montreal’s first goal - and turned the puck over in the neutral zone with the Penguins down 2-1 in the third, leading to a quick score by Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri to make it 3-1.

“A game like that you look back on and I wouldn’t change a whole lot,” said Crosby. “There are things you can always improve on, but I thought we did a good job of getting into their zone and creating things.”

That was pretty much what the Washington Capitals were telling themselves in the opening round and would up being bumped off by Halak and the Habs.

Still, you have to wonder how long the Habs can hang on when they get outplayed by a wide margin like that.

The Canadiens managed just three shots in the second period, but wound up scoring the only goal of the period, a power-play goal by Cammalleri that turned out to be the winner.

The Habs made the Penguins pay for not cashing in.

“That’s playoff hockey,” said Crosby. “That’s why you have to execute. That is what the game comes down to ultimately. We paid the price for not doing that today. It wasn’t a lack of effort, a lack of not preparing or anything like that. Our focus was there. We just got to make sure we are hungry around that net and find a way to put it in."

After going a perfect 4-for-4 on the power play in Game 1, the Penguins were shut out on three tries Sunday afternoon.

The Canadiens made some adjustments to their penalty killing, disrupting the Penguins in the neutral zone and messing up their entries into the Montreal zone and the Penguins didn’t enjoy the long stretches of offensive zone time they had in Game 1.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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