WASHINGTON -- The setting changed, but the story didn't between Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals. It was once again goaltender Jaroslav Halak lifting his team on his shoulders and carrying them to the second-round of the playoffs with one of the biggest surprises in NHL history.
After sitting out in favor of Carey Price in Game 4, Halak stopped 131 of 134 shots in the final three games of this series to help the Habs become the first No. 8 seed in League history to overcome a 3-1 deficit against a No. 1 seed.
Following the Canadiens' 2-1 victory in Game 7 at Verizon Center, Halak spoke to a throng of reporters:
Q: What was the better -- the sixth game or tonight?
Halak: Tonight, tonight. It was a huge game, Game No. 7.
Q: Does it make a little bit more gratifying that you proved so many people wrong?
Halak: I think before the series started, no one gave us a chance to win, not even one game. And we proved them wrong. We showed a lot of fight after being down 3-1.
Q; Do you feel like with this series you were able to make a name for yourself?
Halak: I don't know. We'll see in the future what happens.
Q: You always talked about the guys in front of you. Are you surprised to know they blocked just as many shots (41) than you stopped tonight?
Halak: No, I'm not surprised. They blocked so many shots when they were shooting from everywhere. Even before the game, we said everybody needs to block the shots.
Q: Obviously you didn't want to get pulled in Game 3 and sit out Game 4, but did that rest help you play your best the last three games in the series?
Halak: I don't know. Coach decided to pull me in Game 3 and not to play me (in Game 4) but it's the playoffs. We needed to win the games. After we were trailing 3-1, I said to myself, 'We've got nothing to lose. Just try to do your best and have fun.'
Q: When they made it 2-1, what were you thinking?
Halak: We were still leading, they were still looking to score a goal. I wasn't nervous.
Q: Were you sure Ovechkin's goal was going to be called back?
Halak: I didn't know. He was in the crease. The ref made the call. That was all.
Q: Can you describe your mindset in the hours leading up to the game?
Halak: First of all, I didn't really think about the game.
Q: You didn't think about the game?
Halak: No. We had a practice this morning, focus on the practice. After that, I took a pre-game nap, then I started thinking about the game. I was treating it like a normal game. If I started doing that, I probably would've put a lot of pressure on me.
Q: What do you think this team is capable of?
Halak: One game at a time is what we have to do. We play Pittsburgh, so one game at a time. Friday is one game, Sunday is next game. The first thing we have to do is be ready for the next game.
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