Historical milestones were piled on both sides of Saturday's hockey game, so it was something of an icy little oddity that 18,310 citizens left the building feeling as though very little was accomplished.

Unless you count spending the 200th consecutive Penguins sellout booing Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, still clearly unforgiven for the Jordan Staal injury that marred last year's playoffs and much of the remainder of 2010.

Staal is back, of course, and it's a new year, but even if you thought there was no way last year's Penguins should have lost to Montreal in the playoffs, you should not need any persuading this time around.

"They were the Stanley Cup champions a year ago so we have a lot of respect for the way they play," said Canadiens' forward Michael Cammalleri. "They just seem to bring out your best."

Cammalleri had a goal and an assist in a 3-0 skunking Saturday of the Penguins, so make it four goals and four assists he has accumulated in his last 10 games against the Penguins, then add that to the seven goals he scored in last spring's Eastern Conference semifinals, and you might be looking at a trend.

The win bumped the Canadiens right up against Tampa Bay's taillights for the fifth seed in the postseason tournament that likely begins a month from tonight, the fifth seed being exactly what could see them return to Pittsburgh for some very serious hockey.

That possibility doesn't look for the moment like something these Penguins should embrace, especially the way Montreal goalie Carey Price is playing. The Canadiens stunned a lot of people last June when they traded Jaroslav Halak, the Savin' Slovak, who back-stopped them all the way to the conference finals.

Maybe they knew something.

Price stopped all 26 Pittsburgh shots Saturday and is the clear No. 1 reason Montreal has won seven of its past nine.

"Our guys were just awesome today," Price, 23, said. "Credit the players in front of me and our commitment to defense. That was an Exhibit A road game. We played exactly the way we planned to play."

Nobody plans to play the way Dan Bylsma's team did in this episode, giving the puck away like it was Puck Day, giving up goals in the first minute of periods one and two, then allowing a one-timer by Cammalleri on a pretty centering pass from Jeff Halpern that chased Marc-Andre Fleury to the bench in favor of Brent Johnson.