MONTREAL – As rumors swirl about his future and whether or not it will involve Montreal, Halak just went out and kept doing what he’s done all season—stop the puck. He kicked aside all 38 shots the Panthers threw his way on this night, but those looking for a juicy sound bite about how this was a statement game for the Slovak netminder left empty-handed.
“The guys skated hard tonight and didn’t let them get much out there,” said the always humble Halak after his first start of 2010. “We stuck to the game plan, stayed out of the penalty box and we got the job done. I pretty much felt more and more comfortable as the game went on.”
In addition to picking up six wins in his last seven starts, Halak has stopped just about everything but the kitchen sink that opponents have thrown his way. In that span, the 24-year-old has stymied opposing snipers with a sparkling .954 save percentage.
One by one, the shots came from the Panthers as Halak had the answer each and every time. Although he did survive a close call late in the third period when the Panthers were swarming the Habs zone with the extra man and Tomas Vokoun on the bench as Stephen Weiss almost tied the game to force overtime.
“To be honest, I didn’t know where the puck was, really,” shrugged Halak. “[Jaroslav] Spacek told me it was on my pad and then he just scooped it up and cleared it away. That’s the important thing. I got lucky a few times and they hit a few posts so that always helps.”
Teammate Michael Cammalleri had a simple reason why his team won and it had everything to do with the guy refusing to take any credit for his sixth career shutout.
“You know what?” asked a smiling Cammalleri. “When you don’t give up a goal, you win the game.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Voice of the Fans
The Numbers Game - Jan. 7, 2010