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Pittsburgh Penguins' Pascal Dupuis (9) collides with Montreal Canadiens' Ryan O' Byrne during the first period of Game 1 of a second-round NHL playoff hockey game in Pittsburgh, Friday, April 30, 2010. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gene J. Puskar

In the unlikely event the Montreal Canadiens needed reminding, the Pittsburgh Penguins demonstrated in 26 seconds and one slap shot they are a vastly different proposition than the Washington Capitals.

Not content to do it just once, Pittsburgh decided to emphasize the point.

While it took the Caps almost four games to score their first power-play marker against Montreal in the first round of the playoffs - they went a disastrous 1-for-33 in the series - the Penguins cashed in on their first power-play opportunity.

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Then they scored on their second and third chances, and converted their fourth for good measure, tying a franchise record set in their 1992 Stanley Cup run.

Before the game, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma vowed "to create a storm in the offensive zone" and that the Penguins did en route to a comprehensive 6-3 win.

Though the Canadiens will take heart in the fact that they opened the scoring barely 48 hours after an emotional Game 7 in Washington, and later clawed to within two in the late going, the Stanley Cup champions served notice they will be a harder nut to crack than the regular-season titlists.

Only once has an eighth-seeded team progressed beyond the second round. And if Jaroslav Halak yielded only three goals on 134 shots as the Habs rose Phoenix-like from a 3-1 disadvantage to upset the regular-season champions, the Pens fired three past him on just eight shots.

Then they squeezed two more in to chase him from the net just over five minutes into the third. Halak was also lifted in a regular-season game against Pittsburgh.

But the Canadiens' main worry is not their goaltender or even their penalty kill.

Defenceman Andrei Markov left the game at 11:46 of the first with an undisclosed lower-body injury and did not return.

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The villain was the loathed Pittsburgh agitator Matt Cooke, although unlike his blindside hit that took out Boston's Marc Savard this year, he was blameless in this instance.

Cooke was finishing a check on Markov in the corner, and sent the Habs' best defenceman heavily into the boards.

Markov immediately dropped to the ice, flinging off his gloves, writhing and clutching his right leg. His teammates congregated at centre ice, Scott Gomez went after Cooke, and forward Travis Moen dropped the gloves with Pittsburgh's Mark Eaton.

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When the red mist lifted, the Canadiens were short-handed as Gomez sat for roughing - Pittsburgh took advantage as Jordan Staal, who later left the game with a leg injury, picked the top corner on Halak to make it 2-1.

As they did in their last three games against Washington, the Habs scored the game's first goal on just their second shot - a long wrister by rookie defenceman P.K. Subban, who was a rare bright spot for Montreal this night.

But with Brian Gionta in the box for tripping Evgeni Malkin 8:12 into the game, Habs penalty-killer Tom Pyatt broke his stick while trying to stop a shot, effectively giving the Pens a 5-on-3.

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From there, Malkin, Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar formed a triangle at the top of the Montreal defensive box, throwing the puck to one another before Gonchar's slap shot ticked off Tomas Plekanec's stick and bounced past Halak, who was being screened by Bill Guerin.

Given the fortuitous broken stick and deflection, it can rightly be said the Stanley Cup holders have better power-play karma than Washington.

They required less luck on their second power play, as Staal picked the corner over Halak's glove after cutting to the middle of the ice, or when Letang did the same thing after some nice hustle from Sidney Crosby - the playoffs' leading scorer - on their third.

And on their fourth, Crosby made a brilliant cross-ice feed to Alex Goligoski, who fired past Halak. In between, Craig Adams converted on a diagonal pass from Pascal Dupuis to score his first goal since last year's playoffs.

Michael Cammalleri and Gionta, on the power play, also scored for Montreal. Guerin added an empty-netter for Pittsburgh's sixth.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

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