Links updated Sunday 7:16 am
Canadiens’ Mike Komisarek celebrates his 26th birthday by getting in the face of protesting Penguin Jarkko Ruutu at the end of the first period.
Christinne Muschi, Reuters
Somewhere in Pittsburgh, nursing a badly swollen ankle in front of a TV, Sidney Crosby surely enjoyed a hockey game in Montreal.
On Montreal ice, Penguins goalie Dany Sabourin had a whale of a good time, leading the visiting Pittsburghers to a 2-0 victory over the Canadiens.
Crosby disappointed his fans – and those who hold membership cards in his anti-fan club – by missing tonight’s Penguins’ Bell Centre matchup against the Canadiens. Sid must cool his heels to get a prognosis on the ankle he badly sprained Friday at home against Tampa Bay, having slid awkwardly into the Mellon Arena boards. He’s due to have an MRI on Monday.
But Captain Crosby’s Penguins did just fine without him in Montreal, Evgeni Malkin capping a tremendous game at centre on Pittsburgh’s first line with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
The Canadiens outshot their visitors 31-26.
Georges Laraque, leaving his Crosby bodyguarding duties in the Penguins dressing room, played a large role in getting the visitors onto the scoreboard, muscling his way behind the Canadiens net to feed Jeff Taffe in front of the Montreal goal. Taffe, having flipped in behind the Habs defence, flipped the passout behind goalie Cristobal Huet, who otherwise enjoyed a terrific game, at 6:14.
The Canadiens outshot the Penguins 9-6 in a spirited first period, Alex Kovalev foiled on a couple of excellent chances by Sabourin, the Val d’Or, Que., native who chose home-province ice on which to stone the Canadiens.
The Penguins carried the action to the Habs through the early half of the second. Huet made a couple of brilliant saves early, thwarting Sergei Gonchar after a spectacular rush by Malkin, and then, on a breakaway, Petr Sykora on a shot and quick rebound.
But Montreal would rally and finally outshoot Pittsburgh 17-9 for a 26-15 two-period edge, Sabourin flawless on everything coming his way.
The Canadiens killed three penalties through the first 50 minutes, including 1 1/2 in the third, an unsportsmanlike conduct minor to Tomas Plekanec spanning the second and third and a tripping minor to Mathieu Dandenault, which followed Plekanec’s penalty.
Montreal (24-15-8) had won two straight going into tonight’s game and dropped just one in regulation in their last 10, earning a record of 7-1-2. As usual, the Canadiens have shone on the road, winning six of those seven away from the Bell Centre. The Habs do enjoy foreign ice, 16-7-3 out of town this season and just 8-8-5 in Montreal.
The Canadiens are back in action Tuesday night at home to Boston, then play the Devils in New Jersey on Thursday, their final game before next weekend’s all-star break.