TORONTO — As the Canadiens approached the start of their qualifying round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, coach Claude Julien talked about the difficulty of matching lines because the Penguins had the last line change in the first two games of the best-of-five series.
As it turned out, his concerns were for naught.
Sidney Crosby spent most of the night playing against the Canadiens’ defensive specialist Phil Danault and young Nick Suzuki.
“I was a bit surprised,” said Danault, who was matched against Crosby for 19 faceoffs. “I know they double-shifted him a lot so I guess we were going to face each other.”
Crosby was on the ice for 30 shifts in the Penguins’ 3-2 overtime loss, but Danault also did some extra work. He was on the ice for 31 shifts and would have been even busier if he hadn’t spent six minutes in the penalty box.
“I don’t know what (Penguins coach Mike Sullivan’s) philosophy is (but) ours is pretty simple,” said Julien. “I don’t think we’re a very good team when we’re trying to hard match and then switching on the fly all the time and so on and so forth. We tried to build our team accordingly, meaning the young guys like (Jesperi) Kotkaniemi’s got two really reliable veterans on each side of him.