Pittsburgh, PA – Sidney Crosby scored the game's only goal, Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun teamed up for a 37-save shutout and the Pittsburgh Penguins extended their win streak to 13 games with a hard-earned 1-0 verdict over the Montreal Canadiens at CONSOL Energy Center.
Fleury turned aside all 25 shots he faced before exiting after two periods following a collision with teammate Tyler Kennedy, with Vokoun making 12 saves in relief to help enable the red-hot Penguins to record their second longest unbeaten stretch in franchise history, topped only by an NHL-record 17-game run during the 1992-93 season.
Nine of those triumphs have come without the services of reigning Hart Trophy recipient Evgeni Malkin, who remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
"I think everyone's bought into what we're doing here," said Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. "It starts right from Sid and guys who are used to getting a lot of points. They are putting team goals way ahead of individual goals. I think we realize what our ultimate goal is here, and everyone has bought into that."
Carey Price took the hard-luck loss for Northeast Division co-leader Montreal, which dropped back-to-back outings in regulation for the first time all season. The Canadiens' backstop stopped 24-of-25 chances on the evening.
"I thought we played pretty well, that's the disappointing part" said Price. "Five millimeters was the difference in the game tonight."
Unlike the first meeting between the clubs this season, a 7-6 Penguins' OT victory in Montreal on March 2, Pittsburgh's potent offense was held in check all throughout the first half of the game. The Pens mustered a modest nine shots as Montreal controlled much of the action over the opening 30-plus minutes.
Pittsburgh was able to stem the tide on its 10th attempt, however.
Fleury's save on the Habs' Tomas Plekanec led to a Pittsburgh rush up the ice, with Chris Kunitz placing an outlet pass right on Crosby's stick and the Penguins' captain rifling the puck under Price's left arm to break the scoreless deadlock with 6:41 left in the second period.
Fleury came up with a tough stop on Max Pacioretty just seconds after Crosby's goal, one of 15 the Pittsburgh netminder registered during the middle session.
He didn't return for the third, however, after being shaken up when Kennedy was pushed into him by a Montreal player during a scrum in front 49.2 seconds prior to the second intermission.
The Canadiens kept Vokoun busy in the third, but the veteran managed to preserve the whitewash with the aid of a defensive corps that killed off an early penalty to Matt Cooke during the frame.
"You're going into the game when it's already going and we were winning, so you don't mess that up," Vokoun said afterward. "So you just go in and try your best and try to stop all of the shots."
The game marked the first between the teams in Pittsburgh since former Penguins head coach and current Montreal bench boss Michel Therrien joined the Canadiens. Therrien guided Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2008, but was fired midway through the following season ... Forward Brenden Morrow made his Penguins' debut two days after being acquired in a trade with Dallas, while defenseman Kris Letang returned to the Pittsburgh lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury sustained on Mar. 17 ... The Penguins sent rookie blueliner Simon Despres to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to make room for Letang on the active roster ... Pittsburgh improved to 13-0-0 in March and established a new club record for victories in a month ... The Penguins are now 11-1-0 in one-goal games this season, with nine of their victories during the tear coming by that margin ... Each of the last five matchups in the series have been decided by a single goal.