Fleury has 27 saves, Penguins blank Canadiens 4-0
MONTREAL (AP) Marc-Andre Fleury has been nearly unbeatable in his last nine starts. In his latest win, he even got his first shutout against the surging Montreal Canadiens.
Fleury made 27 saves for his league-leading fourth shutout of the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Montreal 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap the Canadiens' six-game winning streak.
Fleury, 8-1 with a .944 save-percentage in his last nine starts dating back to Oct. 25, came in with a personal-worst .892 save-percentage against Montreal.
''I don't know why, but it never seems to work when I'm here,'' he said. ''It feels good, and it was a good game. First shutout (against the Canadiens), in front of family and friends, it's fun.''
He made an important pad save on Montreal's Jiri Sekac in the game's first 90 seconds, and never looked back. With the Canadiens already down 4-0, the 29-year-old stopped all 14 shots in the third period to preserve his shutout.
''He played amazing,'' said Montreal's Max Pacioretty, who had three shots in the third period. ''I want to be able to bury a couple of chances. At the end of the day, he played a great game and you have to give him credit.''
Beau Bennett and Steve Downie had first-period goals for the Penguins, and Brandon Sutter and captain Sidney Crosby each scored in the second. Pittsburgh has now won 10 of its last 11.
Crosby's goal was his first in nine games.
''We need everyone to contribute and to play the right way,'' he said. ''That's what we've done all year. It's a huge part of having success in the regular season and the playoffs. The fact that we're getting that is the difference in these hockey games.''
Carey Price stopped 18 shots for Montreal, which was looking for its first seven-game winning streak since 2006. The Canadiens, who went 0 for 3 on the power play, started off strong, coming close twice to scoring in the game's first 90 seconds. Pacioretty opted not to shoot on a partial breakaway just seconds in, and Fleury stopped Sekac going hard to the net a minute later.
Bennett gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 7:46 of the first period. The 22-year-old intercepted a pass by defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in his own zone, and shot one past Price for his first of the season.
Two minutes later, Downie doubled Pittsburgh's lead. Kris Letang faked a shot, and passed the puck off to Downie at the side of the net leaving Price with no chance.
Sutter made it 3-0 just 58 seconds into the second, as he patiently waited out Price to beat the goalie with a wrister to the roof of the net.
Crosby capped the scoring with the simplest of tap-ins into a gaping net while the Pens had the man advantage.
''That's the kind of game that gives you a good dose of humility,'' Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. ''It puts things in perspective. When you face a team like the Penguins, you realize that you still have a lot of work to do.
''There's a lot of work in front of us if we want to compare ourselves to big teams like that.''
Pittsburgh's third line - Bennett (one goal, two assists), Downie (one goal, one assist), and Sutter (one goal) - combined for six points.
''When a team has depth like that and is able to score on all four lines, that's what ultimately wins you hockey games,'' Pacioretty said. ''That's the type of depth we have over here, but we weren't able to show it tonight.''
Notes: Forward Pascal Dupuis missed the game due to an illness. ... Olli Maatta, who missed Pittsburgh's last six games after undergoing thyroid surgery, returned to the lineup. ... An upper-body injury kept Mike Weaver out. ... Bennett's two-point night was just the second of his career.