Not many pundits had this one correct — the No. 5-seeded Penguins have been eliminated by the 12th-seeded Canadiens.
Led by the Vezina and Hart Trophy-winning Carey Price's sixth career postseason shutout, Montreal skated away with a 2-0 win and advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs first round Friday. Price turned aside 22 shots while Artturi Lehkonen potted the game-winner against Pens Game 4 starter Tristan Jarry with less than five minutes left in regulation. Habs captain Shea Weber then sealed the victory with a shot that rang around the boards from behind his own net.
Despite it being Sidney Crosby's 33rd birthday, the Penguins came out flat and didn't have much offense in this one outside of a few sporadic moments. In fact, the high-powered offense was held to just three high-danger chances for (per Natural Stat Trick). Montreal took advantage of the lackluster effort to move on.
While the qualifying round was expected to be unpredictable, this result is a surprising one. The Canadiens didn't even have a sniff of the playoffs when the season was paused.
Back on March 12, Claude Julien's squad had a 31-31-9 record and were nine points out of the postseason with three teams between them and the last wild-card spot. They were tied for 18th in goals for (212), tied for 23rd in goals against, in the bottom third on special teams, and in the midst of a three-game losing streak. When the June 26 draft lottery happened, everyone was gearing up to potentially see Québécois star Alex Lafreniere get drafted by Quebec's team.
Now, there's a chance Lafreniere will be skating with fellow Rimouski Oceanic alum Sidney Crosby.
The Canadiens will have to wait until Saturday to find out who they'll face. It'll either be the Lightning or Flyers, who meet in their respective final round-robin game.
Sporting News had all the action as the Canadiens eliminated Sidney Crosby — on his birthday — and his Penguins in four games.
Penguins vs. Canadiens scores, updates, highlights
(All times are Eastern)
Final score: Canadiens 2, Penguins 0
Third period: Canadiens 2, Penguins 0
6:27 p.m. — GOAL. Shea Weber sends it 200 feet as he rings it around from behind his own net and it caroms into the empty net. Canadiens lead 2-0.
6:27 p.m. — Schultz with a shot that's turned away.
6:25 p.m. — Penguins pull Jarry.
6:25 p.m. — Malkin with a sharp-angle shot that is stopped by Price.
6:21 p.m. — Crosby gets a chance but his shot is deflected into the seats by Ben Chiarot. A lucky fan will get that one.
6:20 p.m. — For a team that entered the game facing elimination, there hasn't been much urgency thus far from the Penguins. Will they be able to turn it on now?
6:19 p.m. — GOAL. Canadiens take the lead on a delayed call. Byron gets hooked as he takes the puck around the net and feeds it in front to Artturi Lehkonen, who buries it with just over four minutes remaining. Canadiens take a 1-0 lead.
6:02 p.m. — Crosby rings one off the pipe. No birthday luck here as he looks skyward.
6:01 p.m. — Penguins get their second power play of the day. They had zero shots during their first man advantage.
5:57 p.m. — Brendan Gallagher gets the spring pass from Tatar and is robbed by the glove of Jarry. He was also stopped by Jarry less than a minute into the period on a shot from the right circle.
5:55 p.m. — Canadiens swarming and controlling play. Paul Byron with a shot that goes off the outside of the post.
5:53 p.m. — Third period is underway. Who will score first?
Second period: Penguins 0, Canadiens 0
5:34 p.m. — Double eggs still in Toronto as the second period flies by. Penguins still with the shots advantage (13-11). Per Natural Stat Trick, the ice was more tilted in the Canadiens' favor as the second period wore on; they had a 70 percent CF%.
5:27 p.m. — Canadiens will head back to the power play. Can they get their first power-play goal of the postseason?
5:25 p.m. — Nick Suzuki with a short-handed chance. The kid is flying.
5:21 p.m. — Penguins will head to the power play. Pittsburgh 3-for-15 entering Game 4.
5:17 p.m. — Nick Suzuki comes close.
5:15 p.m. — Maybe he was just giving him a birthday present.
5:15 p.m. — Off a bad line-change, Penguins break out 2-on-1, but Petry doesn't give Guentzel a chance to shoot. Guentzel finds Crosby, who gets robbed by Price on the bad angle. So far, no birthday goals for the birthday boy. On the flip side, Petry does it all.
5:09 p.m. — Jarry has to make a tricky save off a faceoff. Still 0-0 in Toronto.
5:08 p.m. — This game is must-see TV.
5:06 p.m. — The second period started three minutes ago but NBCSN had a live look-in of Predators-Coyotes. Spoiler alert: Predators tied it with 31.9 seconds left to keep their season going.
First period: Penguins 0, Canadiens 0
4:45 p.m. — First period comes to a close goalless and the Penguins outshot the Canadiens 8-5. According to Natural Stat Trick , Pittsburgh controlled play with a Corsi For of 60.61 percent but it was Montreal that had the only high-danger chances (two) in the game.
A look at the numbers after the 1st frame ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/PErwed5BuV— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) August 7, 2020
4:42 p.m. — Canadiens with some good pressure with under a minute left as Victor Mete gets a couple of looks.
4:37 p.m. — Montreal is 0-for-10 on the power play in the series entering Game 4...and are now 0-for-11
4:34 p.m. — Evgeni Malkin gets called for high-sticking and the Canadiens will head to the power play.
4:31 p.m. — Canadiens get a few chances including a Shea Weber shot — which, let's be honest, no one wants to stand in front of.
4:19 p.m. — Hornqvist rings one off the post. There was a little bit of daylight above the glove of Price and he was millimeters off.
4:16 p.m. — Penguins controlling the puck down low and Dumoulin's shot can't find its home.
4:14 p.m. — The birthday boy, Sidney Crosby, rifles off a shot that Carey Price gets a piece of. It's got to be exciting for the kid to play on his birthday.
4:11 p.m. — Less than a minute in and Jarry gets tested by Tomas Tatar.
4:10 p.m. — Game on.
3:35 p.m. — Updates from warmies.
We've got Cale Fleury, Ryan Poehling and Jordan Weal dressed for warmup. Presuming they are the extras.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) August 7, 2020
Ruhwedel AND Johnson on the ice for warmups. McCann is out there. Lafferty is NOT.— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) August 7, 2020
11:07 a.m. — Jake Evans was injured in the second period of Game 3 on a hit by Brandon Tanev.
Claude Julien says Alex Belzile is likely to replace Jake Evans tonight. He would be making his NHL debut at age 28 in a playoff elimination game.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) August 7, 2020
10:32 a.m. — Tristan Jarry named the starter for Game 4.
Coach Sullivan continued: I think that transfers to a game environment. Tristan deserves a lot of credit for how hard he's worked his game and where he's at today. He's a real good goalie." (2 of 2)— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) August 7, 2020