The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 23, 2014

Penguins crush Canadiens

PITTSBURGH — Jussi Jokinen scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist, Sidney Crosby picked up his 26th of the season and Taylor Pyatt added a rare score for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves as Pittsburgh bounced back from a dismal loss to Florida on Monday by trouncing hapless Montreal.

Jokinen picked up his third multi-goal game of the season

Rene Bourque had his seventh goal for the Canadiens but Montreal spent most of the night chasing the Penguins. Carey Price stopped just 16 of 21 shots before being pulled late in the second period. Montreal has lost four of six.

Pittsburgh had its club-record 13-game home winning streak snapped by the lowly Panthers in a 5-1 loss that marked the team’s worst home defeat in more than two years. Coach Dan Bylsma called it the byproduct of a steady decline in play by the Eastern Conference leaders over the last three weeks.

Whatever the problems were, they disappeared 48 hours later.

The Penguins were crisp in the neutral zone, responsible on defense and efficient on offense. They didn’t pepper Price so much as take advantage of their opportunities. All five goals were either the byproduct of deft passing or nifty stickwork.

Jokinen, who tends to score in bunches, gave the Penguins the early lead after being on the receiving end of a bit of brilliance by Malkin.

The Russian star took a pass from Matt Niskanen then darted around a flat-footed Montreal defender before feeding Jokinen with a centering pass that Jokinen easily slid by a diving Price 8:48 into the game.

Pyatt doubled Pittsburgh’s advantage later in the period, deflecting a Matt Niskanen slapshot from the point to make it 2-0.

After failing to score in his first 27 games this season – 22 with the New York Rangers and five with the Penguins – Pyatt has found the back of the net twice in three games.

Bourque briefly gave the Canadiens a lift by chipping the puck by Fleury late in the first, his seventh goal of the season coming via replay after his shot was initially waved off by officials.

The momentum shift didn’t last.

Jokinen fired a knuckling one-timer by Price 5:46 into the second period to restore Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead and Crosby pushed his point total to an NHL-high 69 by redirecting a pass from Chris Kunitz that made it 4-1.

Malkin ended Price’s night by swooping in from the right circle and putting in his own rebound. Price skated to the bench after being chased for the second time this season in favor of Peter Budaj, who stopped all 10 shots he faced. Budaj still found a way to make an impact, skating out to center ice at one point during a stoppage in play late in the third period and challenging Fleury to a fight.

The typically reticent Fleury obliged, taking his helmet and gloves off before referee Kyle Rehman steered him toward the Pittsburgh bench.

Notes: All six of Pittsburgh’s defensemen had at least one assist. ... Penguins G Tomas Vokoun skated for about 45 minutes on his own Wednesday morning, the first tentative steps in his return from blood clots in his pelvis. The 37-year-old Vokoun was taken off blood thinners recently though it remains unclear when Vokoun will be cleared to practice. ... Montreal scratched F George Parros and D Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin. ... Pittsburgh scratched F Zach Sill and D Robert Bortuzzo. ... Pittsburgh plays at the New York Islanders on Thursday while the Canadiens play at Detroit on Friday.

 

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