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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:26 am 
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PITTSBURGH (AP) Mike Sullivan knew the Stanley Cup hangover was coming. Even if the Pittsburgh Penguins coach danced around the phrase whenever the subject came up during the opening three months of the season as the two-time defending champions alternated between sizzling and sleepy.”The first part of the year was a bit of a struggle Patrick Roy Jersey ,” Sullivan said. ”It wasn’t anything we didn’t anticipate as a coaching staff going into it.”Sullivan didn’t panic – to be fair, he never really does – and instead offered a reminder to his team that nothing was inevitable.Maybe not. It just sort of feels that way in Pittsburgh when Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are involved.The proof came on Saturday night, when a pair of third-period goals by the NHL’s best power play pushed Pittsburgh to a 5-2 victory over Montreal to clinch a franchise-record 12th straight postseason berth.”If you don’t make it to the playoffs you can’t win the Stanley Cup,” said forward Patric Hornqvist, who picked up the 200th goal of his career in the first period. ”That’s the first step in this room, to make the playoffs. Now we have to make sure we try to get better every single time we come to the rink. We know what it’s all about in the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll have a really fun run.”Something that’s become a rite of spring since Sullivan took over in December 2015. The Penguins became the first club in nearly 20 years to win back-to-back Cups last June and considering their play since New Year’s Day, they look like a very legitimate threat to give the NHL its first three-peat since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-83.Pittsburgh is now 26-10-3 in 2018, a surge that’s pulled the Penguins within three points of first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals visit PPG Paints Arena on Sunday night.”By no means are we satisfied,” Sullivan said. ”We know there’s another level to our team and that’s what we’re striving for.”Phil Kessel, Riley Sheahan, Conor Sheary and Carl Hagelin scored for Pittsburgh Womens Samuel Girard Jersey , which dominated the largely listless Canadiens to improve to 17-1-1 in their last 19 games at homes. Matt Murray finished with 24 saves for the Penguins, who swept their season series with Montreal for only the second time in franchise history.”We will use these last couple games to try to find some little things so we are ready to go for when the playoffs start,” Murray said.Jeff Petry and Jonathan Drouin scored for the Canadiens, who lost for the fifth time in seven games. Antti Niemi made 28 stops but Montreal couldn’t handle the NHL’s top-ranked power play. The Penguins went 3 for 5 with the man advantage, including Kessel and Sheahan scoring less than two minutes apart in the third period to blow open a one-goal game.”At the end of the day, our penalty kill gives up three goals and if we’re not going to do the job right, we’re not going to pay the price,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.Niemi actually began the season as the Penguins’ top backup after Marc-Andre Fleury was traded to Las Vegas and Murray became fully entrenched at the top spot. The plan lasted all of a month. Niemi found himself on waivers in late October after going 0-3 with a 7.50 goals against average, all of the losses coming on the road.While Niemi has rediscovered his game in Montreal, perhaps it’s fitting the Penguins reached the postseason with their former teammate – however briefly it lasted – in the opposing net. Niemi’s awful numbers in Pittsburgh weren’t entirely his fault. The play in front of him at times was lethargic.The team Niemi faced on Saturday still has some issues in its own end, but the Penguins also have the kind of firepower few can match. Pittsburgh scored three goals in a 4:55-span in the first to erase a one-goal deficit. Kessel and Sheahan beat Niemi 1:49 apart in the third and the countdown to a potential three-peat was officially on.”Obviously you want to go into the playoffs with a lot of swagger and a lot of confidence Semyon Varlamov Jersey ,” Hagelin said. ”Hopefully we can string a few more together.”NOTES: Penguins F Derick Brassard missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. … Kessel left in the third period with an undisclosed injury and did not return. … The Penguins are now 9-7-2 on the first night of back-to-backs this season. … Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby’s five-game goal streak ended, though he did have one assist. … The Penguins’ 12-year playoff run is a franchise record. The team reached the postseason 11 straight times from 1990-2001.UP NEXTCanadiens: Host New Jersey on Sunday. The teams have split their first two games, each winning on home ice.Penguins: will try to take the season series from Washington on Sunday night. Pittsburgh won two of the first three meetings.— The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins will renew their long rivalry Monday at Bell Centre with both teams fighting for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.The Canadiens (17-11-5), who hold the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference, lead the Bruins (17-12-4), who hold the second wild-card position, by one point.The teams split their two meetings earlier this season, with each team winning in the other’s rink. The Canadiens defeated the Bruins 3-0 on Oct. 27 in Boston and the Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-2 on Nov. 24 at Bell Centre.Article continues below ...For the second game in a row, the Canadiens will catch a team playing back-to-back games. The Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators for the third time in 12 days, all by 5-2 scores, on Saturday. The Senators defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.The injury-riddled Bruins http://www.avalancheshoponline.com/authentic-sergei-boikov-jersey , who are without top center Patrice Bergeron (sternoclavicular injury) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (left knee injury), lost 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres at home on Sunday, their sixth loss in their past 10 games (4-6-0).The Bruins tied the score 2-2 on a goal by defenseman Torey Krug with 6:39 to go in the third period but gave up Jeff Skinner’s second goal of the game shortly after and it turned out to be the winner.“I mean, we can’t get down on ourselves,” Bruins forward Ryan Donato said on the team’s Twitter feed. “The way we are playing has worked. We shouldn’t change that. Once we get our chances, we’ll continue to score.”“Right after a goal, the first and last minutes of each period, those are big moments. You can’t give up goals,” Krug said on the Bruins’ Twitter account. “You’ve got to keep that momentum and continue to go. It was another mistake where they scored the same type of goal twice in the game. Normally we pick up on that, make the adjustments and go from there. It was unfortunate we couldn’t keep that momentum and go because I thought we were playing pretty well.”The Canadiens, meanwhile Womens Sven Andrighetto Jersey , are 6-4-0 in their past 10 games.The win over the Senators was the 600th of Canadiens coach Claude Julien’s career.“It may be special, but I’m not the kind of person who pays much attention to things like that,” Julien said after the game. “In 20 years, when I’m in my rocking chair, maybe I’ll be able to look back on these kinds of moments, but right now I still have a lot of drive in me to continue winning. “It’s good, but to me it’s not as important as what I see in front of me.”The Canadiens bounced back from a 2-1 deficit after two periods to defeat the Senators. They got fired up after a goal by Phillip Danault, which would have given the Canadiens a 3-2 lead, was called back when coincidental minors were called, including a controversial embellishment call against Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen, who was being hooked by Senators defensemen Thomas Chabot.“We were a little upset and we transferred that energy the right way actually Tyson Barrie Jersey ,” Canadiens captain Shea Weber told Montrealcanadiens.com. “It was a good reaction. I think guys were really obviously upset and I thought we deserved a goal there, but we did the right things and we came back and played the right way after that.”It was the 10th time the Canadiens have scored at least five goals in a game this season. They did it 11 times all of last season.“We’re a different team than we were last year,” Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher told the Montreal Gazette. “That kind of goes without saying.“I think we play with more energy, I think we play better as a five-man unit and that leads to success at both ends of the rink. We’re spending less time in our zone and playing more in the other end, and the more time you play down there it’s only a matter of time before pucks start going in.”


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