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|The clock hasn’t quite hit midnight yet for the Montreal Canadiens as Cinderella lives to fight another day. Montreal holds on down the stretch to defeat the Penguins, 4-3, at the Bell Centre on Monday night to set up a winner-take-all scenario Wednesday at Mellon Arena. |
Although Montreal got the opening tally on a Mike Cammalleri goal just 1:13 minutes into the game, Pittsburgh was able to recover and get to its game much like they have throughout this series. Only spectacular goaltending from Jaroslav Halak, who made 34 more stops in Game 6, and three hit posts by the Penguins in the second period kept Pittsburgh from building upon the 2-1 lead they generated following tallies by Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang.
But if the Penguins are to continue the every-other win pattern that has developed this series, they are going to have to find a way to contain Cammalleri, who scored two goals in Game 6, giving him five in the series.
Montreal was able to change the momentum in the contest following Cammalleri’s second goal of the game midway through the second period. Jaroslav Spacek tallied 2:30 minutes later to make it 3-2 Montreal. The crowd came alive from there, making it deafening at the Bell Centre, and spurring the Canadiens to win most of the puck battles the rest of the way.
Although Monday was disappointing, the Penguins must realize that as long as they play their game on Wednesday, get an early lead, build upon that lead and use the Mellon Arena whiteout crowd to their advantage, they will be in good shape. Pittsburgh won both Game 7s it faced last season, so they have plenty of experience in this situation.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|MONTREAL -- This postseason, Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak has saved his team on more occasions than it would like to admit. |
Monday, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh, Halak’s teammates returned the favor. Specifically, it was Michael Cammalleri that bailed out his goaltender.
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Sidney Crosby scores the Penguins' opening goal by swatting the puck out of the air baseball style
(photo by Getty)
|What Worked Well: Defensive Production |
One advantage the Penguins have had all series long over the Canadiens has been the offensive production they have received from the defensive corps. That trend continued on Monday as Kris Letang scored one of the Penguins’ three goals, and defensemen combined to pick up five points (1G-4A).
What Could Have Gone Better: Hit Posts
There is no question that the Canadiens won this contest fair and square. They got timely goals when they needed them, did a decent job once again containing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and received clutch netminding from Jaroslav Halak. However, if Sergei Gonchar, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal don’t his posts in the second period and help the Penguins build upon a 2-1 lead at the time, we could be talking about the Penguins closing out Montreal.
|If the Penguins want to look for a positive sign heading into Game 7 on Wednesday night it’s that captain Sidney Crosby appeared to break out against Montreal on Monday night. The superstar pivot picked up a goal and an assist, his first multiple-point effort against Montreal since registering two assists in Game 1. |
The Penguins have to feel good heading into Game 7 knowing they have Crosby on their side. He picked up two goals and an assist in Game 7 against Washington in the second round last year. Including the regular season, Crosby has multiple points in three of five games against the Canadiens this season at Mellon Arena.
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|Montreal struck first less than two minutes into the contest as they took advantage of a Pittsburgh turnover. Mike Cammalleri broke in two-on-one with Tomas Plekanec and the two played catch as Plekanec set Cammalleri up for a one-timer at the top of the right circle which eluded the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury to open the scoring. Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0. |
The Penguins answered the Cammalleri tally as Sidney Crosby became the 12th different Penguin to score in the series. Mark Eaton’s shot from the left point was deflected into the air, where Crosby swung baseball-style to swat the rubber into the upper corner of the cage. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 1.
Pittsburgh took the lead off the rush on its fourth power play of the night early in the second period. Crosby lugged the puck down the right boards, stopped and hit a trailing Kris Letang in the slot. Letang faked a shot to get Ryan O’Byrne out of position and then sneaked a shot past Halak. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 1.
Cammalleri struck again midway through the second period as he took a pass from Andrei Kostitsyn in the slot, made a move to his backhand and placed a shot over the shoulder of Fleury. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 2.
Jaroslav Spacek gave Montreal the lead for good just 2:30 minutes after Cammalleri evened the score. Spacek took a drop pass from Scott Gomez at the center point and blistered a slap shot behind Fleury. Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 2.
Maxim Lapierre put the Canadiens up by two goals on a great individual effort at 11:03 of the third period. Lapierre spun out of a hit in the near corner, took the puck directly to the slot and slid the rubber along the ice under Fleury. Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 2.
Pittsburgh was able to cut the Montreal lead to one with just under two minutes to play as Sergei Gonchar’s one-timer from the right point was deflected past Halak on the way through by Bill Geurin in the slot. Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 3.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma made a minor lineup adjustment prior to Game 6. He flipped right wingers Bill Guerin and Pascal Dupuis, moving Guerin alongside Evgeni Malkin and Maxime Talbot, while Dupuis flanked Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. |
Injuries continued to haunt Montreal along the blue line in Game 6 as former Penguin Hal Gill was forced to miss the contest after suffering a cut in Game 5 on Saturday night. Gill’s spot in the lineup was taken by veteran Jaroslav Spacek, who hadn’t dressed since Game 3 against Washington due to injury. Spacek scored the game-winning goal in the second period.
With Gill out, rookie blueliner PK Subban paired with Josh Gorges at even strength when Sidney Crosby was on the ice, while Ryan O’Byrne saw shifts with Gorges when Crosby wasn’t.
A limited number of Game 7 tickets will go on sale at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Click here for more information.
|GAME NOTES |
|> Scoring Summary: |
MON, M. Cammalleri (10), 1:13 1st period: Canadiens 1, Penguins 0
PIT, S. Crosby (6), 7:22 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 1
PIT, K. Letang PP (5), 5:21 2nd period: Penguins 2, Canadiens 1
MON, M. Cammalleri (11), 10:45 2nd period: Penguins 2, Canadiens 2
MON, J. Spacek (1), 13:15 2nd period: Canadiens 3, Penguins 2
MON, M. Lapierre (3), 11:03 3rd period: Canadiens 4, Penguins 2
PIT, B. Guerin (4), 18:36 3rd period: Canadiens 4, Penguins 3
> The Penguins and Canadiens now see their best-of-seven series evened at 3-3, setting up a winner-take-all scenario on Wednesday night at Mellon Arena. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.
> The Penguins are now 4-2 on the road in the postseason. Since the beginning of the 2008 postseason the Penguins have a 16-12 road postseason road mark.
> The Penguins are now 13-12 all-time in Game 6 with a 6-7 mark on the road.
> The Penguins have an all-time record of 7-4 in Game 7, with a 2-4 mark at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh has won its past four Game 7s and five of the last six.
> Sidney Crosby picked up a goal and a helper against Montreal, allowing him to move back into a tie atop the NHL in both points (19) and assists (13). Crosby has picked up multiple points in seven of the Penguins’ 12 postseason contests.
> Kris Letang scored his team-leading third goal of the series to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead in the second period. That tally was Letang’s fifth goal overall and fourth on the power play, tying him for second among all scorers on the man-advantage. Letang’s five goals lead all blueliners.
> Sergei Gonchar picked up two assists in Game 6 to give him a total of 12 postseason points (2G-10A), most among defensemen. Gonchar is the Penguins leading scorer with six points (2G-4A) in the series.
> Alex Goligoski notched an assist on Crosby’s opening goal to give him five points (1G-4A) in the series.
> Bill Guerin recorded his fourth goal of the postseason with just under two minutes to play in the third period on a deflection of a Gonchar shot.
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. M.Cammalleri |
2. J. Spacek
3. J. Halak
|“We have one game left and it’s the |
biggest one for both teams.”
- Sidney Crosby