The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens will face off on Wednesday, August 5, in Game 3 of their best of five series. The series between the Penguins vs. Montreal is tied 1-1, and the Pittsburgh will take advantage as the home team for the third game.
For the first time in NHL history, 24 teams have been qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, rather than the usual 16 teams. The league and the Players Association agreed to a playoff format that includes the best of five series rounds for seeded teams between 5 and 12. A round-robin tournament is arranged for the top four teams in each conference.
The Stanley Cup Qualifiers were seeded based on points percentage instead of just points since not all of the teams played the same amount of games before the 142-day hiatus. The Penguins, who were the top seed of the Eastern conference qualifying round, got to face the bottom seeded Montreal Canadiens.
Despite the loss to the Canadiens in Game 1, Pittsburgh showed the difference in skill level in the opening minutes. While the Canadiens struggled to establish their presence in the Penguin’s zone, Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 10-1 during the first six minutes and kept the Canadien’s goaltender very busy.
In Game 2, Pittsburgh beat Montreal to even out the series, heading back home on Wednesday. It was a satisfying win for the Penguins as Sidney Crosby, Jason Zucker, and Jake Guentzel scored for the 3-1 victory. They outshot the Canadiens 38-27 and was consistent throughout the game.
In Game 1, Jeff Petry scored at 16:57 of overtime to upset the Penguins and a 3-2 win in their opening game. They scored the first goal against the Penguins, and the unexpected lead boosted their confidence and played exceptionally well, giving them a further 2-0 lead. Even though they went to overtime, Petry saved the day with the winning goal.
However, Game 2 did not go as expected. The Canadiens could not do anything as the Penguins kept the pressure on. Montreal was outshot 14-7 in the first period and only managed a few decent chances in the second period. Carey Price was steady throughout the game and was the best player during the match.
Montreal is struggling as they have not won a playoff series since the 2014-15 season. Montreal hasn’t even gotten out of the 1st round over that span. They have been having scoring issues and their roster is composed of older and younger players, with very few in the primes of their career. The team has not been playing well except for Price. Carey Price has shown great plays for both games, but he alone will not be enough to beat the 5th seed Penguins.
Hence, the Penguins will take Game 3 and take the lead of the best of five series. Three-time Stanley Cup champion Sidney Crosby proved that he is still one of the best players in hockey by scoring in both games. He and Evgeni Malkin are healthy and ready for the grind of another game in the postseason. Unless the Penguins have a bad game or the Canadiens figure out a way to solve their scoring issues, it will be hard for the Canadiens to win, and the Penguins will overtake the lead.