Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby (87) scores on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price during first period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, March 2, 2019.
Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS
They looked great against Detroit.They looked great against the Rangers.Then the Canadiens played a good team. And they didn’t look great – from the net out.With a chance to tie Jacques Plante on the Canadiens’ all-time win list, Carey Price spent the first 10 minutes of the game playing like André Racicot.And you just don’t want to channel Red Light against Sidney Crosby.In beating the Wings and Rangers, the Canadiens didn’t face anyone as good as Pittsburgh’s #87. Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s first goal and set up the next two as the Penguins beat Price on three of their first four shots.The goaltender chasing Jacques Plante did not look great on Geno Malkin’s 50-foot snapshot. But Price had no chance on either Crosby’s opening goal, off a brutal Jordie Benn turnover, or Jake Guentzel’s conversion of a perfect Crosby feedAt least the ignominy of a home-ice shutout was avoided by Brendan Gallagher’s 29th of a splendid season.And the Canadiens had an eye-popping 77 shot attempts, to 43 for the team that won.But Matt Murray outplayed Price. And the Pittsburgh goaltender stymied any hope of a home-team comeback – a prospect that faded after two futile Canadiens’ power plays in the first period.The early dumpster fire notwithstanding, the Canadiens did not play a terrible game.Max Domi and his linemates hustled and created chances.Shea Weber had a mind-blowing 13 shots, four of which Murray had to stop.Phillip Danault went 13-9 on face-offs.But no fewer than 14 Canadiens skaters were on the ice for goals-against at even strength. Jonathan Drouin and Mete were each minus-2.And after a lovely warm spring-is-around-the-corner day in Montreal, the Canadiens hit the ice and took their own crowd out of the game.It was a measuring-stick contest for a team that still holds down a Wildcard spot – and still might on Sunday night, if Winnipeg beats stumbling Columbus, which was shut out on home ice by Edmonton Saturday afternoon.But the Canadiens did not measure up against Pittsburgh. And they are taking their tenuous playoff position across the continent to California.That will be a challenge, as will six other road games down the stretch.Garry Galley thinks the Canadiens deserve to make the playoffs.“They’ve had a real good season,” the TSN colour man added.Indeed they have … up till now.• • •Comments on the Liveblog:A Benn brain cramp, a bogus call on Petry, a post by Weber and an unsuccessful breakaway for Domi is about a season’s worth of crap, bad luck and fatwas. I have a good wine cellar to go to, and I’m locking myself in tonight.-habitualIf this is a statement game, then the statement is Habs blowhemaNietzsche loved suffering. Musta been a Habs fan!-Sir Loin of BeefHabs need 19 of final 32 points to get in. 9-6-1- doable.-Teamhab