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Cammalleri joins ranks of Canadiens greats

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MONTREAL (AP) -The Canadiens' Michael Cammalleri has joined some select company with his playoff scoring binge, matching a mark set by some of Montreal's greatest stars.

With seven goals in a seven-game victory over the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Cammalleri equaled a team record for tallies in a single playoff series shared by Maurice Richard (1944 and 1958), Jean Beliveau (1956), Bernard Geoffrion (1957), Guy Lafleur (1975) and Marcel Bonin (1959). All but Bonin are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And Cammalleri, who left the Calgary Flames last summer to sign with the 24-time Stanley Cup champions as a free agent, has a shot at making more history when Montreal moves into the conference final for the first time since 1993, the year of its last Stanley Cup conquest.

After the Canadiens eliminated Pittsburgh with a 5-2 win Wednesday night, the Toronto native was talking about the team when he said that "there's something pretty special going on here." The same could be said for him.

The Canadiens had an off day Thursday while they waited to see which team they will face in the Eastern Conference final. Their opponent will be decided Friday night in a Game 7 showdown between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Once the conference final starts, more team records will be in danger.

Cammalleri had two game-winning goals against Pittsburgh and one in the first round against Washington, leaving him one short of a team record shared by Richard (1958), Beliveau (1965), Lafleur (1975) and Claude Lemieux (1986).

The 27-year-old Cammalleri, whose previous playoff experience was one round with Calgary last spring, has 12 goals in 13 playoff games this season.

The official team mark for goals in one playoff year is 17 by Edouard Lalonde in 1919, and the modern record is 15 by Yvan Cournoyer in 1973. Cammalleri is already tied for fourth place in that department. The league record is 19, shared by Philadelphia's Reggie Leach in 1976 and Edmonton's Jari Kurri in 1985.

Four of Cammalleri's goals have been on the power play, two fewer than Jacques Lemaire's 1979 total.

Cammalleri and another offseason signing, Brian Gionta, have accounted for 11 of the 19 goals Montreal scored against the Penguins. Gionta also has four power-play goals this postseason.

"Those guys really came up big, and not just scoring goals, but making plays," said defenseman Hal Gill, another free agent who has excelled in the postseason.

The eighth-seeded Canadiens already have written a new page by winning consecutive seven-game series. The only time they had won two in the same year was 1971, when they topped Boston in the opening round and Chicago in the final, with a six-game win over Minnesota in between. Like this year, both those Game 7s were won on the road.

Now they will take on one of two teams against whom they have plenty of playoff history.

Montreal is 24-8 in postseason series against the Bruins, who swept the Canadiens in the opening round last year. It would be a third straight year the teams have met, with Montreal winning in seven games in the first round in 2008 before bowing out to Philadelphia in five.

The Canadiens also came back from a 3-1 deficit to knock Boston off in seven games in 2004.

The rivals will not have met at this stage of the playoffs since a semifinal series in 1979, when there were only three playoff rounds. Late in classic Game 7 in Montreal, Don Cherry's Big Bad Bruins were called for too many men on the ice, Lafleur tied the game and Yvon Lambert scored in overtime.

Montreal has a 3-2 playoff series edge on the Flyers, including a six-game loss in the 1987 conference final and a six-game win in the same round in 1989.

The big one came in 1976, when the Canadiens ended the two-year reign of the Broad Street Bullies with a four-game sweep in the Stanley Cup finals.

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