MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Penguins regained control of their Eastern Conference semi-final against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, blanking the home team 2-0 on the back of a fine display from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Quebec-native Fleury made 18 saves while Evgeni Malkin scored the breakthrough goal at 1:16 in the third period as the defending Stanley Cup champions seized a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"The first two power plays, we played not very good," Malkin told reporter after his extra-man conversion. "After the second period, we talked a lot and we just moved the puck. Quick movement of the puck opened the net."
After conquering Pittsburgh in Game Two to tie the series, the eighth-seeded Canadiens kept the game scoreless until the third before imposing goaltender Jaroslav Halak finally surrendered a goal.
A vital component in Montreal's surprising first-round series triumph against the top-seeded Washington Capitals, Halak finished with 23 saves in the loss.
He was pulled late as the home team pressed to tie the score, and it enabled Pascal Dupuis to convert an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining.
The Habs had chances to tie the contest but Fleury held firm to register his fourth playoff career shutout, his performance rubber stamped by a brilliant diving stop on a shot from in-form winger Michael Cammalleri to preserve the lead.
Cammalleri had scored eight goals in nine playoff games coming into the contest but managed just four shots.
"I don't think we're too disappointed with the way we played or with our effort," Cammalleri said.
"I'd have to sit back and look at it more but I think if we can all be a little bit better, and it's not that much but a little bit better, then maybe we get the one goal instead of them."
Despite going scoreless, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby stepped up to draw a crucial holding penalty near the end of the second period to set up Malkin's power play goal.
Pittsburgh had put strong pressure on their opponent in the second where they recorded 13 shots and finally capitalized in the final period.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)