Pens Get Point Without Crosby

Should we be happy that the Penguins got a point in Montreal without Sidney Crosby (and Matt Cooke) in the lineup? Or should we be upset that the Pens managed to get only one shot on 32 attempts past Carey Price and wasted a great effort from its penalty-killing unit? I’ll go with the latter.

Despite a dominant first period and an early goal, Pittsburgh dropped a 2-1 shootout decision in Montreal. Arron Asham scored 2:14 in, but that was it. The Pens also went 0-5 in the shootout.

Obviously, the story is the absence of Crosby, who missed his first game of the season with a mysterious “upper body” injury. Was it the hit from Washington’s David Steckel in the Winter Classic New Year’s Day; was it the high hit from behind from Tampa’s Victor Hedman Wednesday; or was it a combo of both? We may never know the exact truth about the injury itself or the cause of it. The important question that has yet to be answered is how long Crosby will be out. Stay tuned. (Update: Crosby is expected to miss a week with a mild concussion. He could be out for the next three to four games.)

This was a frustrating game because you had the feeling the Pens could have pulled away if they just scored another one in the first, and they had plenty of chances to do so. They didn’t, and instead had to fend off Montreal in the second and kill off an extended 5-on-3 situation in the third. (Great PK work by everyone, particularly Craig Adams.)

Another problem for the Pens was the absence of Cooke, who was back in the Burgh for personal reasons. The fallout? Mark Letestu wound up centering the first line, and Deryk Engelland found himself as a wing on the fourth line. Yikes. Marc-Andre Fleury got the night off, and Brent Johnson filled in admirably stopping 21 shots. Another subplot was Evgeni Malkin getting taken out late by Scott Gomez. Geno went down awkwardly but thankfully returned to action. Let’s hope he’s fine.

Minnesota, who beat Boston 3-1 Thursday, comes to town Saturday night.

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