The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed like a team possessed to start the first game of the 2016 Rookie Tournament in London, Ont., but that early push proved unsustainable in their eventual 8-3 loss to the Montréal Canadiens on Friday afternoon.
The Penguins completely dominated the pace of play early on, at one point out-shooting the Canadiens 9-1 and owning a 11-4 shot advantage at the midway point of the first period. However, after that, things took a turn for the bleu, blanc et rouge.
“We wanted to have a really good start, and it was a really good first period,” said Penguins defenseman Lukas Bengtsson. “In the second period, we played with speed but made too many mistakes. From there, Montréal picked up the pucks and scored.”
Lukas Bengtsson, in his first game with the Pittsburgh organization, put the Penguins on top with a goal just 21 seconds into the game.
Montréal struck back in the second period with two goals coming a minute apart from defensemen Ryan Johnston and Thomas Parisi, putting the Habs on top, 2-1.
Mike McCarron found a loose puck atop Tristan Jarry’s crease and poked it up and over the Penguins netminder for a 3-1 Canadiens lead with 7:11 still to play in the second. Casey DeSmith checked in to replace Jarry at this point of the game, as well.
Just before the middle frame expired, a failed clearing attempt on the penalty kill ended up on the stick of Johnston, who ripped home his second goal of the game with 37.2 seconds left in the period.
The Canadiens took a 4-1 lead into what became a wild third period that saw both teams combine for four goals in the first half of the final frame. The two prospect squads continued to exchange scoring chances until the final buzzer, when score read 8-3.
Christian Hilbrich and Jake Guentzel accounted for the Penguins’ third period tallies.
With the rust shaken off, the Penguins are set to faceoff with the Otttawa Senators prospects next. Game time is scheduled for a 3:35 p.m. puck drop at the Budweiser Gardens.