Matt Murray makes 27 saves, Penguins shut out Canucks 3-0

Murray, Penguins shut out Canucks 3-0

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VANCOUVER — Ryan Miller’s heroic 45-save effort wasn’t enough to slow the powerhouse Penguins.

Pittsburgh shut out the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Saturday to collect back-to-back road wins and its fifth straight victory. Matt Murray made 27 saves, while Jake Guentzel, defenceman Ian Cole and Conor Sheary scored for the Penguins.

“Ryan Miller played fantastic tonight,” Cole said of Vancouver’s goalie. “You see how dominant of a goaltender he can be. We had a ton of chances and sooner or later those are going to go in eventually. We had to keep making it hard on him, which we did.”

It was a season-high for both saves and shots faced for Miller. He was especially outstanding in the second period when he made a monster save on Sheary from about six feet away on a delayed penalty. On the ensuing power play he stoned Phil Kessel while flat on his stomach and then stopped Sheary again off a 2-on-1 late in the period.

“It was nice to not see Miller in the net for a shot,” joked Sheary about his empty-net goal in the third period. “He was stopping everything I was throwing at him. It was nice to have that.”

For Miller, he was philosophical about not getting the victory despite turning in a tremendous performance.

“It’s hockey. Sometimes you play well enough to win and you don’t get it. You have to kind of accept that’s part of it,” said Miller. “You try your best whenever you are on the ice and continue to battle and see what can happen. It was a 1-0 game. It could have turned at any point.”

The Penguins (43-16-8), who won a 3-2 shootout win on Friday in Edmonton, moved into sole possession of second place in the Metro Division ahead of Columbus and one-point shy of division-leading Washington.

The Canucks (28-31-9), meanwhile, took another hit to their already bleak playoffs hopes. Vancouver is now 10 points back for the second Wild Card spot in the West.

About eight minutes into the game the Canucks looked to have scored first, with Daniel Sedin’s corner shot along the goal line ricocheting in off Michael Chaput’s skate. However, it was called off on goaltender interference thanks to a coach’s challenge.

“I was yelling even before they showed the replay to challenge just because the guy coming from the backside, takes my foot out from underneath me,” said Murray. “It’s subtle but that’s the rule, you can’t nudge the goalie because that completely throws you off and gives you no chance to make the save so I was 100 per cent confident.”

“I thought it was a tough call,” added Henrik Sedin. “I don’t know if it really prevented the goalie from making a save.”

The Penguins broke through with 3:36 left in the second, as Cole’s hard wrist shot near the blue line cleared traffic to beat Miller, who was being screened by Oskar Sundqvist.

The Canucks had their second disallowed goal of the night early in the third when Sven Baertschi swatted in a puck while on the power play. But Baertschi’s stick was deemed too high.

Guentzel scored on a beautiful pass from behind the net from Sheary to give Pittsburgh some insurance, 2-0, with just over two minutes left to play.

Notes: The Penguins announced LW Carl Hagelin (upper body) will miss at least four weeks. … Chris Tanev and Markus Granlund missed the game with food poisoning. Defenceman Alex Biega played on the fourth line. … The Canucks recalled forwards Alex Grenier and Joseph Labate from the AHL with Brendan Gaunce (upper body) and Nikolay Goldobin (flu) out.

Jason Keller, The Canadian Press