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Fleury has 27 saves in 4-0 shutout as Penguins snap Canadiens winning streak

11/18/2014 10:13 EST | Updated 01/18/2015 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens wanted to prove they could go toe-to-toe with one of the best NHL teams — but the attempt fell flat.

The red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins snapped Montreal's six-game winning streak by beating the Canadiens 4-0 on Tuesday.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for the shutout for his league-leading fourth shutout of the season and first career shutout against Montreal.

Although Montreal outshot the Pens, Michel Therrien's men were outclassed for much of the encounter.

"That's the kind of game that gives you a good dose of humility," said Therrien. "It puts things in perspective. When you face a team like the Penguins, you realize that you still have a lot of work to do.

"There's a lot of work in front of us if we want to compare ourselves to big teams like that."

Montreal (14-5-1) has struggled against top-tier clubs like Tampa Bay and Chicago.

The result was equally lopsided against the third-place Pens on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh (13-3-1) flaunted its prowess on the power play by scoring on their only chance. Its defence was also strong, blocking 25 shots on the evening.

Fleury is 8-1-0 in his last nine starts dating back to Oct. 25, and has a .944 save percentage over that period.

"I don't know why, but it never seems to work when I'm here," said Fleury, who came into the game with a personal-worst .892 save percentage against Montreal. "It feels good, and it was a good game. First shutout (against the Habs), in front of family and friends, it's fun."

Fleury made an important pad save on Montreal's Jiri Sekac in the game's first 90 seconds, and never looked back. With the Canadiens already down 4-0, the 29-year-old stopped all 14 shots in the third period to preserve his shutout.

"He played amazing," said Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, whose three third-period shots were stopped by Fleury. "I want to be able to bury a couple of chances. At the end of the day, he played a great game and you have to give him credit."

Not beating the Pens' goalie at the start proved costly for Montreal, as Beau Bennett gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 7:46 of the first period. Bennett intercepted a pass by defenceman Nathan Beaulieu in his own zone, and shot one past Carey Price for his first of the season.

Two minutes later, Bennett's linemate Steve Downie doubled Pittsburgh's lead. Kris Letang faked a shot, and passed the puck off to Downie at the side of the net leaving Price with no chance.

"At the end of the day, it's frustrating," said P.K. Subban. "But it's okay — we have to learn those things. They're a good team, and we're going to play many more good teams this season. We have to use this to prepare ourselves for those types of games."

Brandon Sutter added a third for the Penguins just 58 seconds into the second, as the Pens forward patiently waited out Price to beat the Canadiens netminder with a wrister to the top of the net.

Pittsburgh's third line — Bennett (one goal, two assists), Downie (one goal, one assist), and Sutter (one goal) — combined for six points.

"When a team has depth like that and is able to score on all four lines, that's what ultimately wins you hockey games," said Pacioretty. "That's the type of depth we have over here, but we weren't able to show it tonight."

Captain Sidney Crosby added a fourth for the Pens on the man advantage - his first goal in nine games.

Despite Crosby's scoring drought coming into Tuesday's contest, the Penguins have now won 10 of their last 11 games.

"We need everyone to contribute and to play the right way," said Crosby. "That's what we've done all year. It's a huge part of having success in the regular season and the playoffs. The fact that we're getting that is the difference in these hockey games."

The Canadiens, who were looking for the club's first seven-game winning streak since 2006, went 0 for 3 on the power play.

Price stopped 18 shots for Montreal in defeat.

"If one game like that gets our confidence down, then we don't deserve to be where we're at right now," said Pacioretty, whose team is still in first place in the Eastern Conference. "Good teams find a way to turn it around, and good players find a way to turn it around."

Montreal welcomes the Western Conference's third-place St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The Blues have won nine of their last 11 games.

Notes: Forward Pascal Dupuis missed the game due to an illness. … Olli Maatta, who missed Pittsburgh's last six games after undergoing thyroid surgery, returned to the lineup versus the Habs. … An upper-body injury kept Mike Weaver out of the match. … Bennett's three-point night was just the second multi-point game of his career. … Montreal's Tom Gilbert was on the ice for Pittsburgh's four goals. … The Pens' power play is converting a league-best 33.8 per cent.

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