Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta, Cammalleri (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Cooke
I didn't think the Habs looked like they could score a goal tonight, so to get 3, on 21 shots, was quite the feat. None of those was more crucial than the game-winner, which also happened to be a very pretty play, scored in the second by Cammalleri. The goal, a PP marker, was the only goal scored on any PP tonight which means that we got back to what works for us - holding the special-teams advantage. This play all started with Mike working hard to get the puck to Gomez who was on the right half-boards. Scott found PK at the left point who let rip towards the net. The puck took a weird deflection and started heading towards Camms' leg. With one flick of his leg the puck was up into the air and then, with one swing of the stick it was over Fleury and into the net.
Our 3 forwards, all signed last summer, in the dome tonight are the same that we saw on Friday night. Leading the group is Gomez who had another stellar game. Another pass from behind the net and another assist was then supplemented with his pass on the play of the game. That now gives him 8 points in 9 games which is where you need a top-2 centre to be if you have any real hope of success in the playoffs.
Gionta bagged his 4th of the playoffs towards the end of the first which assured us a tie heading into the intermission. His work, however, beyond that point was all about determination and focus as he was very, very good on the PK and at getting the puck up and then deep. After a quieter series against the Caps Brian has started the second round very well and is now playing some of his best hockey as a Hab.
Mike wants to win. You can see it in each and every game, interview and even shift. What he has done to make that happen is that he (along with all of his teammates) has bought into a system that totally restricts how many chances he will get. When he does get chances, though, he seems to have no problem converting. A pair of goals tonight give him 8 in 9 games (13 points). Aren't you glad he is scoring now and was cold after the Olympics and not vice versa? Maybe we should have RDS'd him in Game #1 and demoted him or benched him. Makes you wonder what other of their ideas are way out of whack.
With Markov out and Spacek still not ready we needed Gill to play like the top-4 hat he did against Washington and not the #6/7 that we thought he was. Don't really know why I was worried as he was more than a top-4 today, more like a top-2. He was very good on the PK and at breaking down chances and I was very happy to see Crosby getting frustrated throughout, thanks to Gill.
Josh was instrumental during the PK, but, let's face it, they were easier to defend on the PK than at even-strength. So, I am happy to say that he was even better when we were playing 5-on-5. He played for over 24 minutes, was +2 and is really starting to look like a true #2 out there. All of the work that Gill and Gorges can do against the Crosby line makes everybody's life a lot easier; from Halak all the way to the goalscorers who aren't being called on as much.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
Jaro came back more refreshed today than he was in Game #1. A lot of his play, however, has to be attributed to our D who did a very good job at keeping the shots to the outside and allowed Halak to see most everything. He didn't let a defensive (and coaching) breakdown, which led to a goal, get to him either as at that point he decided to turn it up a notch. 38 saves on 39 shots...anyone have stats for when he faces 39 (not 40) + shots?
Montreal went back to what worked against the Caps tonight. They allowed Pittsburgh to come into our end all game long, but with the condition that most shots must be from the outside and that we can block as many as we like. For when that wasn't working we relied heavily on Halak, but again he was up to the task. The Pens then showed us how weak some of their big name players can be, especially on the third goal. In particular, Letang (a worse Mike Green?) gave the puck to Cammalleri who had no problem beating a Team Canada approved butterfly up top with ease. We made the most of our chances and the team bought into what the coach was telling them for the rest of the time. This game was a great example of how the Pens, although stacked up front, have some serious problems in their own end. Their D and goaltending is very comparable to Washington's and so we must take advantage. If we can shut down their big two forwards, like we did for our wins over the Capitals, then I think we have proven this could be a very winnable series. The problem, however, is this - how can we continue to shut down Crosby and Malkin? One game is doable, but rarely do those guys go more than two games without playing a huge roll. What we'll need on Tuesday is more of the same of what we had tonight, some serious Bell Centre energy and, hate to say it, but quite a bit of luck.