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Cammalleri emerging as postseason standout

by Corey Masisak
PITTSBURGH -- It turns out playing in the postseason suits Michael Cammalleri pretty well.

This is Cammalleri's first time in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only has he had to face three of the top offensive players in the sport, the diminutive left wing for the Montreal Canadiens is outscoring all of them.

Cammalleri scored twice Sunday in a 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena and now has eight playoff goals, one behind San Jose's Joe Pavelski for the League lead.

"We all have different responsibilities, and producing offense for me and some other guys is one of our responsibilities," Cammalleri said. "It is nice to see the puck go in."

A second-round pick by Los Angeles in 2001, Cammalleri spent his first five NHL seasons watching the playoffs because the Kings did not qualify. A trade to Calgary before last season brought the best statistics of his career (39 goals, 82 points) and his first Stanley Cup Playoffs experience.

It would be a brief one, though. Cammalleri had one goal and three points for the Flames, who were knocked out in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks. Cammalleri signed with Montreal in the offseason, but his offensive production during the regular season was not the same (26 goals, 50 points in 65 games).

He's made up for it in the postseason. Cammalleri notched five goals against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals and has added three more in the first two games of this series against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Not only does Cammalleri have a League-best eight goals, he is now second behind Crosby with 13 points.

"He hasn't played in many playoff games, but he's enjoying the moment," teammate Scott Gomez said. "He's a big-time player, and we need him to keep going."

Cammalleri gave Montreal a 2-1 lead on Sunday with a beautiful power-play goal. PK Subban's shot from the left point hit someone in front of Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

The puck was about to sail past Cammalleri, but he stuck out his left foot and kicked it into the air before swatting it into the net with a waist-high, baseball-style swing.

"Those plays are more reactionary. There isn't much time to think when it is happening," Cammalleri said. "[Gomez] made a pretty nice seam pass to PK and PK gets a one-timer to the net. At that point me and [Brian Gionta] are like two dogs on a bone just trying to get to the net and to that rebound. It hit me and then I was able to kind of guide it in there."

Pittsburgh spent nearly 30 minutes after Cammalleri's first goal dominating possession and pushing for the equalizer. He was able to sneak between Jordan Leopold and Kris Letang and beat Fleury for an insurance marker that sent many Penguins fans to an early exit with 2:54 remaining in the third period.

"He's a talented player," Leopold said. "I got a chance to play with him last year in Calgary at the end of the year. He has a knack for finding the net."

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