Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Varlamov (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri (2), Lapierre, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Fehr
Don't want to sound like a broken record, but I think we would all agree that the play of the game has to go to Halak. Now, there are just too many clutch plays to choose from tonight, so instead of deciding which save set us up the best for game 7 I decided to go out with the prettiest of all his saves. That save had to be the glove-save that he made on Joe Corvo. You know, the one that brought back memories of Roy's big glove-hand. Tonight Jaro may have put on the best single-game performance of any Hab since Roy himself as this series is now down to a one-game, sudden-death battle.
He set the tone this game with two goals in the first ten minutes. From then on he was certainly one of our best forwards as he was quick on the turn-over and creative in the offensive zone. His shot, which is incredible, isn't his only trick, however, as a great pass on Plekanec's empty-netter meant that we had at least two more days of winter left.
The refs decided to call a penalty they never call tonight and they called it twice on Max. It is unfortunate that falling coincided with the refs (and league's) desire to have an Ovechkin-Crosby conference final, though, as it took away from what was a fabulous game from Max. He was all over the ice all night, got in people's faces and scored what I considered the most crucial goal of this series, thus far.
Andrei was very engaged all game long and added a very dangerous third element to his line that we need on a top-unit. He was instrumental on a few good chances, but, more importantly, was strong in his own end. That all came to a head late in the third when he made a very smart clearance, off the boards, which ended up being an assist on the goal that sealed the win for us.
I was told last summer that Hal Gill would prove his worth in the playoffs. Then, I was told during the season that his play may be a contributing factor in our missing of the playoffs. So, it was with mixed feelings towards Gill for me when this series started. I must say, however, that after tonight I am almost sold on the idea. He used all of his reach and PK-ability as he was an absolute horse when we were down a man (2-men down in particular). With players like Markov, Gorges, Subban and Hamrlik playing well all you need from Hal is strong defensive play and I think that, tonight, he really stood out for just that.
Like Gill, Josh was on fire tonight. He was a machine in his own end as he made very few (maybe no) mistakes. He, at times, looked like Gill on the 5-on-3 as he crouched down in the slot and took away any chance of a goal-mouth Capitals goal. PK's arrival tonight meant that Josh could have a night off of the PP which meant that he could concentrate fully on his defensive and neutral zone play.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
Are you kidding me?
This game will go down as a steal by Halak, as a game in which the Habs were totally outplayed (shots were 54-22). Lost in that, however, will be that the Canadiens quite possibly played their best period of the year in the opening 20 minutes. The good thing was that we managed to take advantage of our opportunities and goodness knows we had to do that tonight. It quickly became obvious that the refs were quite happy to not have a Hab 2-goal lead in this game. Bad for American TV ratings you see. Trips against us were our dives, fluffy holds were 2 minutes in the box, a 5-on-3 was called on a have-to-call (puck over the glass...why is that a have-to-call and hooks, trips, cross-checks, hits to the head, too-many-men, obstruction, holding infractions aren't?) after an even-up holding call (horrible, horrible call). No matter what the refs and Caps threw at us, however, there was nothing that Halak couldn't handle. He refused to let the refs dictate the score and decided that his best form of protest was by keeping his cool and playing the game of his life. The Habs now have the opportunity to make something substantial of this season and to give a big thank-you to their best player, the player that has made all of this possible. It is hard to believe that the kid has had to deal with doubters every week for the past three years and I am indeed enjoying these good times. It would be nice if this would do it, if people would give it a rest, but you know that somehow, at some point, people will question Jaro's abilities; I just hope that that time doesn't come this week.