Habs Game Report Montoya shuts out Penguins

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The bottom line: Al Montoya continued his string of outstanding performances as he backstopped the Canadiens to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in their home opener Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Montoya made 36 saves for his sixth career shutout as he and the Canadiens improved to a 2-0-1 record.

Goaltenders step up: The Canadiens needed only 23 seconds to take a 1-0 lead on Max Pacioretty’s first goal of the season, but the goaltenders grabbed the spotlight for the remainder of a freewheeling, entertaining period. Montoya made 17 stops, including big saves on Chris Kunitz and Matt Cullen, while Marc-André Fleury made 12 saves after Pacioretty beat him with a shot from the left faceoff circle.

Just like old times: Longtime linemates David Desharnais and Pacioretty were reunited briefly in the second period, and Desharnais gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead at 12:07. Penguins defenceman Brian Dumoulin was tied up in the corner as he attempted to clear the zone. Pacioretty emerged from the scrum with the puck and threw a blind, backhand pass to Desharnais, who was alone in front. Desharnais went backdoor to take a pass from Jeff Petry for his second goal of the night to put the Canadiens up 4-0 at 13:44 of the third period.

Radulov breaks the ice: Alexander Radulov produced the prettiest goal of the night at 4:31 of the third period. Radulov left one defender falling to the ice as he carried the puck in the Penguins zone, moved across the grain and then put the puck between Fleury’s legs for his first goal as a Canadien. Alex Galchenyuk and Montoya picked up assists on the play. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan asked for a review because Brendan Gallagher was in front of Fleury, but the video review determined there was no goaltender interference. The Canadiens went 1-for-6 on the power play while the Penguins were 0-for-8.

Passing the torch: The opening-night ceremonies ended with the traditional passing of the torch. In past years, the current captain of the team received the torch from a former captain, but there was a new wrinkle as Senator Jacques Demers was transported to the player’s entrance in a wheelchair and passed the torch to Pacioretty. Demers, who coached the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993, is recovering from a stroke he suffered in April. After the coaches and staff were introduced — associate coach Kirk Muller received the loudest welcome — the players introduced themselves prior to skating on the ice. Galchenyuk and Russian newcomers Radulov and Mikhail Sergachev were greeted warmly, but the loudest ovation was reserved for goaltender Carey Price, who was dressed in street clothes. The pregame ritual ended with brassy versions of the U.S. and Canadian anthems by members of the OSM conducted by Kent Nagano.

 

What’s next: Price’s appearance in street clothes will no doubt trigger conspiracy theories about the nature of his flu, but the goaltender practised with his teammates Tuesday and nobody should be surprised to see him start Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet 360, RDS, TSN-690 Radio) unless Michel Therrien decides to ride the hot hand with Montoya. The Canadiens visit Boston to close out the week.