Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (L), Johnson
Habs goalscorers: Gionta (2), Moore, Cammalleri, Moen
Opposition goalscorers: Kunitz, Staal
Pittsburgh was coming hard and they were getting the calls they needed to mount their comeback. With the Habs up by 2, and 13 minutes left, Gill got called for touching Crosby. That meant that the Pens, who not only had the momentum, had a chance to get within one with a whole lot of time to spare. Halak, however, was simply unbelievable on this kill and made save after save to preserve our 2-goal lead. One save in particular was too much, it was just too good to be true. The pass/shot came in from Gonchar and went right to Malkin. The Russian deflected it into what he thought was an empty cage. Instead, the puck met the outstretched pad of Halak who, once again, amazed us all.
Brian got the ball rolling with a goal early and sealed it with another one late; both were scored on the PP. He wanted this win and you could see it on his face, with every penalty-kill and each time he shot. All of a sudden he has 7 goals in the playoffs and is giving us a potent threat from our second line.
Pleks doesn't seem too worried about goals or points and seems to only care about winning, winning as a team. He is doing all of the little things fabulously, like getting under Crosby's skin. Where he is standing out the most for me, however, is on the PK. Tonight he played more than any other Hab (6:33) while a man down and was a big reason that the Pens couldn't score on their 6 chances. He also made an incredible pass on Cammalleri's game-winner - just to remind us he can play in that end too.
Nothing against Cammalleri, who once again was a warrior, but how could I leave out Moen tonight? He was fantastic and filled in very well on the second line. His short-handed goal proved to be more crucial than we could have imagined at the time as he made a complete fool of the way-too-casual Gonchar. Like Plekanec, Travis was a force in both ends as he played a perfect playoff game.
Our D was good tonight, but I did feel that Hamrlik, Gill and Bergeron could have done more. Those three made a few too many mistakes for my liking and they could have cost us. One can only wonder if Darche at 2:10 is better than Bergeron off D (O'Byrne in) - especially when 2 guys are just back from injury. Anyhow, Gorges compensated very well for his teammates as he, once again, played an outstanding game. He does, however, now get a lot of praise and I think I'll steal one from Topham when I say Gorges is no longer under-rated, no, now he is simply 'rated'.
Subban has proven to be quite the addition to this team and one can only wonder if a series win here (or in Washington) would have been possible without this youngster. It is hard to believe that he is only 20 and that he only has 11 games under his belt, isn't it? I can't, however, always dwell on the fact that he is young and must focus on the fact that he is an able (very able) NHL defenceman. His 5 blocked-shots led the team and his 23 minutes were second only to Gorges. Tomorrow this boy turns 21 and becomes a man, but has been playing like one for what seems like ages.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
After Game #1 Jaro really settled down and had a great series. Getting the hook in that game gave him a chance to rest and get ready for the rest of the series. From that point on he was unbelievable and is, again, the biggest reason that we are moving on. His goaltending, right now, is really as good as it gets and could be enough to take us to where we want to get to. I think that after two long rounds he will benefit from the longer break (we can't start earlier than Sunday) and will hopefully be ready to go in Game #1 in Philly or Boston.
Montreal started very well, but before we had the chance to start Crosby took a very bad penalty. Maybe a little too excited, maybe trying to get back at Gorges, he hit Josh from behind and it cost him 2. It sunned him (his words) because it was early in a Game #7. Too early to be making a cheap hit? No, Sid thought it was too early to have a penalty. We scored 2 goals within 14 minutes of that and seemed to get in Fleury's head. A particularly brutal hold (uncalled I might add) took Orpik out of the play on our second as he chose to hold Lapierre against the back of the net instead of covering his man, Moore, out front. I felt that our sound play gave us a lead and we were 40 minutes from the end.
The second period started well with another 2 goals, but a bounce off a ref's skate and a dropped stick by Hamrlik got the Pens within 2. The next 15 minutes of hockey would be nearly unbearable as it seemed like it was chance after chance for Malikn and co. We, thanks mostly to Halak, stood our ground, though and then got a 5th to seal it.
The next round, in theory, should be our easiest, but I think we all know that it won't be. Things only get harder as you go through and you can bet your bottom dollar that our opponents will still see us as a beatable 8th seed. Crosby seems to think that getting out-chanced and out-shot isn't the way to go as he 'has never heard of any team doing that as a strategy', so I guess we are doomed. Maybe, however, instead of being sarcastic about our chances he should realize that it was him, more than anyone, who was responsible for the Pens loss here. I don't mean that in a bad way, I just mean that without Sid this isn't the best team in the league, with him, I would say that it is. Montreal found a way to take him out of the game and it worked. Of course it helps when you have a better goalie, but our D also did a great job. Let this be another lesson to those who think that shots and chances should equal wins. No Sid, our strategy is as old as the sport itself - score more than the other team, no matter how on earth you can.