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Aftermath: Canadiens 3, Penguins 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins


The Penguins now understand how frustrating the Canadiens can be to play against in the postseason. Pittsburgh controlled the play and dictated the game, but still came up on the losing end thanks to some spectacular netminding by Jaroslav Halak and some unfortunate bounces.

The Penguins played the majority of the game in the Montreal zone, including a five-minute stretch in the second period where they had long stretches of sustained pressure. Pittsburgh also outshot the Habs by a 39-21 count. In fact, Pittsburgh nearly had as many shots in the second period (18) than Montreal had all game.

The Canadiens may have won this battle, but if Pittsburgh keeps playing the way it has in the first two contests then the Penguins should ultimately win the war. They did all the right things. Now it’s a matter of sticking to their game plan. If the Penguins keep executing the way they have then eventually the pucks will go in, and they’ll end up on the winning side.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mike Cammalleri scored two goals, Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves in a performance much like his series-stealing play during Montreal's first-round upset of Washington and the Canadiens surprised the Pittsburgh Penguins by winning 3-1 on Sunday.

Matt Cooke celebrates his fourth goal of the playoffs
(photo by Getty)
What Went Well: Designed Play
The Penguins took an early lead in the first period thanks to a beautifully designed play off a faceoff at the Montreal blue line. Matt Cooke lined up in a defenseman’s spot. Maxime Talbot won the draw and Cooke took off toward the Montreal zone. Canadien Andre Kostitsyn didn’t see Cooke fly behind him and Talbot threw a pass onto Cooke’s tape for a semi-breakaway. Cooke turned the puck over and slid it through Jaroslav Halak’s legs for the tally.

What Could Have Gone Better: Converting Chances
The Penguins certainly had the better of the play throughout the duration of the game. But Pittsburgh learned how frustrating the Canadiens can be when Jaroslav Halak is playing at the top of his game, and when his teammates are blocking shots. The Penguins play generated 39 shots (not counting the 15 that were blocked) and countless opportunities; it was just a case where the puck didn’t find its way into the net.
Matt Cooke set a new single-season career high with his fourth goal of the postseason. Cooke used his speed and tenacity to beat the Canadiens down the far side, took a pass and made a move worthy of Sidney Crosby, going backhand between the pads of Jaroslav Halak.

Cooke had two shots, a plus-one rating, a hit, a takeaway and a blocked shot all in 12:37 minutes of ice time.
The Penguins grabbed an early lead just five minutes into the opening period. Maxime Talbot won a faceoff at the Montreal blue line and found Matt Cooke streaking down the far side. Cooke, who lined up in the defenseman’s position on the draw, blew by Andrei Kostitsyn, collected the puck and was one-on-one with goalie Jaroslav Halak. Cooke juked and then slid the puck through Halak’s five-hole for his single-season career-high fourth goal of the playoffs. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 0.

The Canadiens evened the score with four minutes left in the first period. Scott Gomez had the puck below the goal line in the Pittsburgh zone. He found Brian Gionta in the slot. Gionta snapped a shot into the net for the score. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 1.

The Canadiens took their first lead of the game in the second period with a power-play goal just 10 seconds into the man-advantage. P.K. Subban threw the puck toward the net from the far point. The puck changed direction three times before streaking to Mike Cammalleri in the high slot. Cammalleri kicked the puck into the air in the heart of the strike zone and then batted it, baseball style, into the goal. Montreal 2, Pittsburgh 1.

The Canadiens added to their lead with less than three minutes to play on Cammalleri’s second of the game. Montreal forced a turnover at its own blue line. Tomas Plekanec countered with a pass that went off Kris Letang and right on the tape of Cammalleri. The Habs forward threw a quick shot over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury. Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 1.
The Penguins had a few lineup changes, with a couple players returning from injury. Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Leopold both were back on the ice for Pittsburgh. Leopold had been out since suffering a head injury in Game 2 of the quarterfinals after colliding with Andy Sutton. Kennedy had been sidelined with a lower body injury that he suffered in Game 4.

Penguins center Jordan Staal missed his first career NHL game due to injury. He had a procedure to repair a lacerated tendon in his foot. In the process Staal’s streak of 357 consecutive games played was snapped. In his four-year career, Staal had only missed one other game (a healthy scratch in his rookie season).
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, M.Cooke (4), 4:38 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 0
MON, B.Gionta (4), 15:48 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 1
MON, M.Cammalleri PP (7), 7:27 2nd period: Canadiens 2, Penguins 1
MON, M.Cammalleri (8), 17:06 3rd period: Canadiens 3, Penguins 1

> Following Montreal’s victory in Game 2, the semifinal series is all tied at 1-1. The series now heads north of the border to Montreal for Games 3 (Tuesday) and 4 (Thursday).

> Matt Cooke scored his fourth goal of the postseason, setting a new single-season career high.
1. J.Halak
2. M.Cammalleri
3. M.Cooke
“I don’t think we would change a whole lot. We did a lot of good things. If we keep doing them the puck will eventually go in.”
- Sidney Crosby

Author: Sam Kasan

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