WASHINGTON -- Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak
made coach Jacques Martin's decision to start him Friday night count look like a stroke of genius. Halak was spectacular in making 37 saves to preserve a 2-1 victory and force the need for a Game 6 against Washington.
Halak was the Canadiens' obvious hero of the night and a worthy First Star of the game. He was definitely happy and, better yet, relieved after it was all over, but Halak was also composed because he understands the big picture.
Montreal still trails 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, but it's clear that any goaltending controversy is dead for now. Here's some of what Halak had to say to the media following Friday's win:
How big was that start for you guys with two goals early in the game?
"I think our mindset was set because it could have been our last game of the season. Everybody started with a lot of energy and you know we scored two goals in the first and I think it was a great thing for us. After that we were doing what you're supposed to."
Describe the saves on Alexander Semin
and Tomas Fleischmann
in the third period?
"The one on Semin, I was just in the right place; the one on Fleischmann, he kind of waited a little bit and gave me a little time to move side to side. It hit me in the blocker."
Was that like an old ball hockey save, where you throw the blocker and hope?
"There was a little bit of traffic and he shot it through some guys, but I was in the right place and it hit me in the blocker. You know, that counts."
What does this win do to the team's confidence?
"It's great that we won. Before the game everybody knew what kind of game we needed to play and we did it. But still, we're trailing by one, and it's do or die for us. We need to play our best all the time now."
After you gave up that goal in the second period, what was the difference in coming right back -- because in the previous three games they just kept going and scoring?
"We didn't back up and we were still playing the same way. We kept our third man high and even when we gave them some power plays we did a job there."
After what (Alex) Ovechkin said about the video showing you shaking in Game 2 was it nice to come back in this building and do what you did tonight?
"You know what, he can say what he wants. I mean, maybe it showed it on video, but I think if you squeeze the bottle your hand is going to shake. That's what I think. I don't think I was nervous, even tonight. I did the same thing tonight. I was squeezing the bottle the same way. If you squeeze the bottle your hand is going to shake."
How were you able to put behind what happened to you earlier in this series?
"In the playoffs, every game is a different game -- and if you lose you have to put it behind you because if you still think about it you put yourself in a bad spot and we don't want that. If you lose there is a new game coming up and we have to make sure we're ready for that one."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl