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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Pens #5

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Workin’ overtime – They say that to win in the playoffs, your best players have to be your best players. But what better way to let the Habs’ stars shine their brightest than to give them plenty of opportunities to cash in on? With 246:38 minutes under his belt so far in the postseason, Game 4 hero Brian Gionta has been on the ice more than any other forward in the NHL during the 2010 Playoffs – and the veteran winger has made sure to use every one of those seconds wisely. 

Dress two goalies – With 49 bruises to show for his fearless work in the postseason, Hal Gill already has more blocked shots to his credit than Jose Theodore had in Round 1. Adding eight blocks to his playoff tally in Game 4, Gill has 17 more in that category than his leading competitor, Anton Volchenkov, who helped the Sens stymie the Penguins’ sharpshooters in the first round.

Or just dress one really good one – While his defensemen have been throwing themselves in harm’s way all playoffs-long, Jaroslav Halak seems to be pretty comfortable stopping everything the league’s top snipers have to throw at him. After a 33-save effort in Game 4, Halak now leads the NHL with a sparkling .934 save percentage in the postseason.

The unusual suspects – The game might not have officially been over when Tom Pyatt scored two-and-a-half minutes into Game 4, but history states otherwise – the Habs have a perfect 3-0 record when the rookie center has found the back of the net this year. But the Habs know it’s always good to have a back-up plan when playing the defending Cup champs, so making sure Maxim Lapierre also lit the lamp on Tuesday night wasn’t a bad idea, either. The Canadiens are 8-0-1 in 2009-10 when Lappy scores for the good guys.

Beating the odds – Does it make any sense? No. Is it part of the Habs’ game plan? Probably not. Has it worked so far? Absolutely. Illogical or not, when the Canadiens have fired exactly three pucks at an opposing netminder in the second period of a playoff game this year, they’ve come away with the win in four of those five outings. Game 4 was no exception to the rule, with 16 of the Canadiens’ 25 shots – and two of the team’s three goals on the night – coming in the final 20 minutes against the Pens.

See also:
Playoff Central
Habs square series with win over Pens in Game 4
Best supporting actors 
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