3 Winners and Losers from Penguins vs. Canadiens

MONTREAL, CANADA - DECEMBER 13: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his goal with teammates Sidney Crosby #87 and Valtteri Puustinen #48 during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on December 13, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, CANADA - DECEMBER 13: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his goal with teammates Sidney Crosby #87 and Valtteri Puustinen #48 during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on December 13, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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MONTREAL, CANADA – DECEMBER 13: Joel Armia #40 of the Montreal Canadien jumps over Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the Bell Centre on December 13, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins PK Unit in OT

When discussing the winners of tonight’s game, it’s imperative to highlight the exceptional performance of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ penalty kill unit. This season, they’ve consistently shown themselves to be the antithesis of their powerplay counterparts, and their outing in Montreal was a testament to that. Despite conceding an early goal to Monahan in the first period, their true moment of brilliance shone in overtime.

Faced with a challenging situation after Evgeni Malkin was penalized for tripping—a call I personally found questionable—the penalty kill unit didn’t falter. Although the atmosphere was tense, and doubts began to surface about their ability to withstand this critical juncture, the unit rose to the occasion.

The penalty kill unit expertly neutralized the threat, efficiently killing off the penalty and restoring the team to full strength. This crucial intervention came at a moment when the game’s outcome hung in the balance.

It’s worth noting, though, that the Penguins increasing reliance on their penalty kill unit to bail them out of tight spots is becoming a concerning trend. While it showcases the unit’s skill and resilience, it also raises questions about the team’s overall game strategy. This is a topic that deserves its own in-depth discussion at a later time.

Their resilience and effectiveness in such a high-pressure situation not only reflects their season-long reliability but also cements their status as undeniable winners of tonight’s game. The Penguins penalty kill unit, with their unyielding defense and strategic insight, proved once again why they are a cornerstone of the team’s wins this season.