Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri (2), Spacek, Lapierre
Opposition goalscorers: Crosby, Letang, Guerin
I was thrilled that we came back in the 2nd period to tie it up and then take the lead, but I was never going to be comfortable with just that one goal. I had a feeling, as well as Pittsburgh was playing, that they would score again; so playing D for 20 minutes was not going to work. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that my play-of-the-game is Lapierre's goal; the winner. Initially he got stopped coming up the left-wing, but somehow (thanks to the Pens) got the puck back and went into the corner. There he doubled back on Goligoski and quickly lost him. He then cut out from the corner to the front of the net where he froze Fleury, got around another D-Man and lifted the Habs to victory.
Mike Cammalleri - Game Puck
Cammalleri is proving, time and time again, to be a big-game player. Tonight he set the tone early with a goal 1 minute in. He then would add his second of the night (11th of the playoffs) halfway through the second. That goal in particular was really a thing of beauty as he converted a very good Kostitsyn pass with a swift backhand. Beyond those two goals he was far and away our best forward (which was very hard to do tonight) as it seemed like most major chances involved him. His 11 goals are the most by any Hab in the playoffs in the last 20 years, a mark he now shares with Vinny from 1993 - Camms has done it in 7 less games.
Oh, how things can change. This is why you stick with your talent as they are the players that can make the difference. Yes, it may be frustrating that Andrei doesn't get points or contribute in each and every game, but the fact that he can play like this once in a while (hopefully more often as we go forward) is reason enough to stick with him. Both of his assists were very good passes and he came close, on numerous occasions, to adding more to his tally. To put an exclamation mark on his night Martin had him out there in the dying minutes, with a defensive assignment, and I thought that he did quite well. The points give him 8 in 13 games which is pretty much what you would expect/hope for.
There are certain players that want to win more than others and who will, seemingly, do what it takes to go deep in the playoffs. Their time of the year (like 90% of fans) is now. Max, almost shockingly (after a weak season) seems to be one of those players. His winner tonight was just one of a series of good plays that he and his linemates strutted out before us. Right now, thanks mostly to Max and Moore, our third line is playing as well, if not better, than theirs and that is something that no one expected and is something that is helping us immensely.
How hard must it have been to sit out the past 9 games for Jaro? At first he misses Game #4 and, with an injury, must surely think that his season is done. In fact, there may have been a couple of days where he just went through the motions of rehabbing. Then, the Habs started winning and all of a sudden we are in the second round. At that point he must be thinking about a return, as quickly as possible. That is when it must have been hard, that is when the hunger must have grown. Having a player with that much passion, skill and hunger come back into the line-up is invaluable and one can only wonder if it would be good to rest players for the sake of them having that added incentive? Risky, yes, but you can't deny that Spacek likely played better tonight than he would have had he not missed a game and had fatigue set in. He was very good all night, especially defensively where he did exactly what was asked of him. Scoring a goal must of been as sweet for him as ever and I sure know that it meant a lot to us fans. One can only hope that there are more defenders on their way back, but, for now, thank goodness he was able to play.
Where would we have been without Spacek? You could easily ask that question about Subban too. In just his 10th game of his career you can't be faulted for forgetting that he is still a rookie, still 20 years old. His play was calm, exciting and impressive. I thought that he was our best D-man going forward all night and that he made very wise decisions throughout. He was also a rock in our own end (on for 2 of our goals, 0 of theirs) and Jacques knew it - he gave him 29 minutes of ice!
Another game in which you think Halak was good, but not great. Then you start remembering the saves and the fact that he stopped 91.9% of their shots and all of a sudden you realize that he was, once again, a major factor. He did get very lucky (3 posts, one disallowed goal), but to keep us in the lead for over 26 minutes he deserves some credit. He wants to win and doesn't want to let his teammates down, so I believe that we are going to see a spectacular performance on Wednesday from Jaro; hopefully one that will send us to the Conference Finals.
Montreal got the Bell Centre into it (like they needed a reason, but still) very early with a goal from the top line. From that point on you knew that the crowd was going to be a factor. You can't however, underestimate the skill and desire of Pittsburgh and it wasn't long until they were up. With 35 minutes to play, the Pens all over us, and a goal down many teams may have turtled, many would have packed their bags; not the Habs though, not this year. They weathered the Pittsburgh storm, that came in the form of 3 posts and a disallowed goal (brutal call by ref - huge break for us), and, somehow, found a way to go up. Despite being outshout 27-17 we went into the final 20 minutes of the game with a lead. The third period was nerve-wracking, but luckily Lapierre's preemptive strike was all that we would need.
It is now off to Pittsburgh and we have one thing on our mind, one thing only. We aren't worried what will happen if we lose, we aren't worried what people will say. We don't care how we win, or who will score our goals. No, we head to Pittsburgh as a true team, a team that is working together, working for each other. Let Wednesday be the last game at Mellon Arena and let us go to the Conference Finals for the first time in 17 years - come on boys, I think that it is about time now.