Cullen: Habs handle Crosby, not Pens; Wings in trouble

Scott Cullen
5/5/2010 8:17:25 AM
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The Penguins handle lockdown in Montreal and it appears that good fortune seems to have found the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs.  It's been a long time coming.

The Canadiens returned home for Game Three against Pittsburgh and locked down the Pens early, holding them to just three shots in the first period, only to have the Penguins turn around and limit Montreal to three shots in the second period.

The end result was an 18-save shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury.  While Montreal did generate some chances late, in an attempt to tie the game, it was still the fourth time in the last five games that the Canadiens were held to 22 or fewer shots.

Evgeni Malkin scored from what may as well be his "office", firing from the top of the circles on the power play.  Four of Malkin's five goals in this year's playoffs have come with the man advantage.

The Canadiens have to be relatively satisfied with the work they've done to keep Sidney Crosby in check for first three games of the series.  After obliterating the Senators in Round One, Crosby has two assists (both on power plays), an even rating and three shots on goal through three games.

Brian Gionta had seven of Montreal's 18 shots on goal, tying his playoff career high, set against Tampa Bay in May, 2003.

Glen Metropolit returned to the Habs lineup and played onnly 5:12, only Mathieu Darche, who dressed and didn't get on the ice for a shift, played less.  At the other end of the spectrum, Mike Cammalleri led the Canadiens with 22:15 of ice time while rookie P.K. Subban led the defence with 22:09.

Now that they are up three games to none in the series, against playoff powerhouse Detroit, it's standard to say that these Sharks are different than past year's versions.  Maybe they are and, that also might mean that they are finally getting some luck.

Through the first round, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were roundly criticized for their lack of contribution to the defeat of the Avalanche, so it was a little odd to see them combining for a winning overtime goal in a playoff game. 

For his part, Thornton has elevated his play in this series, putting up five points in three games, though he was certainly fortunate to get sprung on the game-ending two-on-one.

Detroit's Jason Williams fired a slap shot high and wide, which isn't great, but wouldn't have been such a problem had defenceman Jonathan Ericsson not been attacking on the weak side.  Once the puck ringed out of the Sharks zone, Thornton and Marleau had a clear 2-on-1 and Brian Rafalski didn't prevent noted passer Thornton from feeding 44-goal man Marleau.

If Detroit falls in this series, and down 3-0 it sure looks like that's the direction this is heading, the tying goal for San Jose in Game Three is going to be the terrible tying goal allowed by Jimmy Howard

San Jose's Logan Couture, standing almost on the goalline in the corner of the rink, managed to find a hole between Howard's pads with fewer than seven minutes remaining in regulation. 

Under different circumstances, it might not be so crushing, but for a team that was already down two games to none, that's a tough one that ends up overshadowing an otherwise solid game from Howard.  But, if that shot from Couture doesn't go in and the Red Wings finish off the game, how many people would be suggesting these Sharks are different?

Henrik Zetterberg, who played his best game of the series, didn't exactly have a beauty goal either, but his did hit off defenceman Douglas Murray to deflect past Evgeni Nabokov.  Nabokov also came up huge with a stop on Zetterberg on a penalty shot, even though Zetterberg seemed to have a lot of open net when he made his backhand deke.

Scott Cullen can be reached at and followed on Twitter at

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