Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (W)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: Letang, Gonchar
Too little, too late, so the goal isn't really in consideration for me. No, tonight, it was a glove-save that Halak made, point-blank, on Letestu in the third period. The save kept the game close enough to give us a chance as I believe a goal there would have prematurely sunken us. In the end it wasn't a game-saver, but it still was a very pretty play.
Let's start with the good, shall we? He scored a late goal, his 9th, and fired as many shots on Fleury throughout the game. He was our most consistent threat (out-shooting Crosby by 8) and was likely our best forward from start to finish. What wasn't so great was the fact that he was getting in too close to the net; he wasn't making life very hard for the Pens. A lot of shots, and more chances than any of his teammates, but still not the level that we need from him.
If Darche can be inserted onto the third line and out-perform 9 teammates then it makes you wonder who else may be able to do the same? Mat wasn't able to do so tonight because he has more skill, no, it is more about fatigue or, in his case, lack thereof. Fresh legs and a certain hunger to be in the playoffs (and playing for a contract), combined with energy, can be a valuable tool in this marathon. Could Sergei give us more of the same? Do I care that he may or may not be a jerk? Do I give that his teammates may or may not like him? I think so, no and no. Just like in Darche's case he is a healthy alternative who could bring something new. Darche, for his part, used all of this to his advantage and played a very good fore-checking game. I liked his work with Laps as they came close on a few separate occasions.
Another spirited affair from Lapierre tonight. He also looked like one of the least tired players as the top two lines couldn't really breakthrough. There were a few occasions where I thought that he could have been more aggressive offensively, but at the end of the day he did his job. Also nice to see him go 5-0 on face-offs.
Losing Gill could be very bad news for us, but tonight we made sure it didn't effect us too much. The main reason for that is that Gorges was able to take on more responsibility and lead (with Hammer) this suddenly inexperienced group. No Markov, Spacek, Gill and Mara...who would have thought, eh? Having 5 NHL D-men that are even eligible, at this point, is miraculous when you think of it. Josh will have to do more of the same on Monday if Gill is out, but are you the least bit surprised when I tell you that I think he can handle it?
The young D and Bergeron slipped up a bit in this game, so thank goodness for Hamrlik. He was very steady all game long and helped Subban through a learning game. I was surprised that Martin didn't use him more actually, towards the end. He has been a consistent offensive threat from the back over the years and, when you need goals, I may use him more than Bergeron as the fear of letting one in, at any time, is drastically reduced.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
It is funny how a .920 night feels like an off night, but it somehow does, doesn't it? I got past those feelings, though, and realized that, yet again, he was our best player. I would love for someone else to play even better, believe you me, but you also can't beat this type of goaltending. He is giving our team a chance to win each night, in every situation and that is what makes our prospects in this series seem so exciting. The second goal was a bit weak, the first was a PP blast, but beyond those two shots I though that he was very good.
Tonight the reffing wasn't great, but wasn't the reason we lost, let's just call it typical. Our D was good, but not great, no one to blame though really. Halak was himself, not his best self, but certainly his usual self. The offence had chances, many of them actually, and even out-shot the Pens, but they didn't capitalize when they had to. So, there you have it, no one was bad, but no one stepped up and took the bull by the horns. The forwards got in, almost scored, but no one player (or group of players) really didn't do more than, the generic, 'generated chances'. At this stage of the year, when you are trying to knock a second great team in a row you can't play pretty well. You can't play a game that may have been good enough for a 4-1 win against the Islanders in February. No, it must be the game of someone's life, the goal of someone's season or the dominance that we could speak of for years. We looked tired and out of ideas by the end which is upsetting as that tells me we weren't prepared enough. I don't, however, believe that we can' t win this series and I don't, for a second, believe that there aren't a handful of players that could step up to the plate. On Monday night we need 1, 2 or more players to be at their best as you can rest assured Pittsburgh will want to get it done. These are the types of games that players dream of, so we musn't fear them. We must shoot for the glory and players must strive to be their best because, at this point, what do we really have to lose?