Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Varlamov (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri, Moen
Opposition goalscorers: Ovechkin
Choosing the player to give the play of the game to was the easy part, but choosing the save turned out to be the hard thing. The save I went with was in the third and, like many others, was a game and series-saver. This one in particular was on Semin who unloaded a heavy one-timed slap from very close in. Jaro made a perfect displacement from left to right and got all of the puck, sending it to the corner. In reality, though, it was one of a series of saves that were the plays of the game for me, but this one, for one reason or another, stood out to me.
Martin trusted less than 9 forwards at the end of the game and Moore was amongst the group that he turned to the most. Shift, after shift he was asked to fore-check hard, keep the puck in the offensive zone and allow no one to burn him. I would say that it was mission accomplished as he did exactly what we needed him to do.
Moen did tonight what Pouliot hasn't been able to do all series (and for most of the end of the regular season) - score. It didn't take long either as the feisty winger got on the scoresheet, with the game-winner, 7 minutes in. In all he played 18 minutes, mostlty with G+G, and held his own. There were moments when I certainly wished that he had better touch, but others when I was thankful that he could play soundly in his own end.
Scott had a great first period as he picked up an assist and then almost another on a very great pass to Markov (Andre hit the post). I also really liked when he followed up an impressive AK46 rush and fought to get a shot on net. Tonight Scott was the ultimate playoff warrior as he was our best forward and seemed very capable of getting people to follow in his footsteps.
We needed the real Markov, Markov at his best and he was there for us tonight. On a day when Mike Green was nominated as the best defenceman (i.e. winger) in the league Andrei was able to outplay the kid at both ends. His assist was great and he came so close to making it 3-0 on a shot of his own. I can't however, overlook his defensive play as he was outstanding tonight. Both he and O'Byrne played well, but it was Markov who really stood out. Martin didn't restrict him to play the same minutes as Bergeron tonight as he nearly tripled the time of his former partner. Having Andrei on for 27 minutes sure makes the game go faster and makes it that much easier to watch.
I don't want to take anything away from Gill, as I felt he played a great game, but Josh was just too good tonight to overlook. Maybe someone is listening to us here or maybe the common sense that we have been preaching about the D is finally being adopted by our coaches. I say that because tonight Gorges was used more than any other player and was very, very solid throughout. With Spacek out and Hamrlik limited to 12 minutes (for some reason) we needed Josh to be our #2. Tonight he had no problem being a go-to guy in all situations as he helped shut things down as much as he helped to get the puck up the ice.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
That is the type of performance that can win you games, the type of game that can turn things around for a team that needs a few things to go their way. Tonight Halak was on fire and very nearly got a shutout for his efforts. There was big save after big save as he showed no signs of nerves, fatigue or lack of focus. As well as the team played tonight there was no question who our best player was as time, and time again, he kept us ahead in the game. Monday now seems very doable knowing that we have the potential of excellent goaltending...we had all been wondering where that had gone for the Habs for the past 3 weeks (Game #1 excluded).
Montreal did tonight what they weren't able to do in games #2 and 4 and that is hold a lead. They started the game very well and never really looked back. Of course good 'tending makes this a good game rather than a bitter exit, but when I look at the other 18 players I genuinely did like what I saw. We were out-shot and were maybe slightly outplayed at times, but all in all I felt that we had a strong game against a very tough opponent who certainly wanted a win in their home rink. The best thing for me tonight, other than the sustained effort, had to be the line deployments by Martin. For example Bergeron was only used for 10 minutes, only 4 of which were at even-strength - excellent. He saw that Hammer wasn't playing well and cut his time in half. He was able to tell which forwards were on tonight (Moen, Moore) and which weren't (Sergei, Metro, Pouliot) and he made the right calls. He knew what players to have out when we had a lead, but still wanted goals. I really liked what the coach did tonight and would have put him in the dome too, if I could have.
It is now back home for another no-tomorrow game. The Caps, however, must be a bit frustrated with themselves and maybe a bit nervous. Could they really let a President's trophy season come down to a game #7 against the 8th seed? Should they mix things up to beat the suddenly hot Halak? The great news is that we may have Washington re-thinking things and that we seem to have a clearer view for ourselves. Well done Habs, now let's do it again.