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Aftermath: Canadiens 5, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Game 7 Photos

Prisuta: Despite Loss, Penguins Establish Franchise's Identity
Penguins Thank Fans For Sticking By The Team Until The End 
Videos: Guerin | Bylsma | Crosby | Letang
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

In what has proven to be the last game ever played at historic Mellon Arena, the Penguins dropped a 5-2 decision to the Montreal Canadiens and now their 2009 Stanley Cup title defense comes to an end.

Pittsburgh has plenty to look back on this season and be proud of, though. They finished the regular season with 101 points – breaking the 100-point barrier for the sixth time in club history and third time in the last four seasons.

Sidney Crosby claimed his first-ever Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s goal scoring champion with 51 goals. Jordan Staal ran up his regular-season games played streak to 302 – second place in franchise history.

And the fans helped the team sell out the last 166 games in Mellon Arena’s existence – every regular-season and playoff game in the past three-plus seasons.

The Penguins came within one game of a third straight trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. And though they didn’t accomplish their goal, they can hold their heads high and be proud of their effort in a memorable season.
( PITTSBURGH – Montreal has shed its Cinderella tag once and for all.

All it took was a 5-2 defeat of the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Wednesday night's Game 7 at Mellon Arena – the last game in the building's rich hockey history.

The Penguins salute their fans following the final
game in Mellon Arena history
(photo by Getty)
What Went Well: Le Resistance
To say that the outcome looked gloomy after Pittsburgh feel behind 4-0 would be the understatement of the century. Despite the bleak circumstances, the Penguins never blinked, never lost hope and never gave up. Pittsburgh kept skating, working, moving their legs, hustling and managed to chip away at the lead. However, the hole was too deep to overcome.

What Could Have Gone Better: First Two Minutes
In true Murphy’s Law fashion, everything that could have gone wrong for the Penguins at the start of Game 7 did go wrong. Pittsburgh was penalized just 10 seconds into the contest. Montreal converted the opening goal 22 seconds later, and the Penguins were forced to kill a second two-minute penalty.
The biggest difference maker in the most important game of the season was the Penguins fans. The sold out crowd of 17,132 – the 166th consecutive sell out – was loud, boisterous, cacophonous, energetic and supportive. The entire game they let out loud cheers of “Let’s Go Pens!”

Even when Pittsburgh fell behind 4-0, the fans got behind their team with cheers of encouragement. And even after the final buzzer, the fans gave the Penguins a standing ovation and continued their “Let’s Go Pens!” chants well after the team had left the ice for the locker room.
The Penguins couldn’t have asked for a worst start to the game. Shorthanded just 10 seconds after the puck dropped, Montreal took advantage with a power-play goal 32 seconds into the opening frame. PK Subban had the puck in the near corner and his shot was re-directed by Brian Gionta and squeezed through Marc-Andre Fleury, who was tight to his post. Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0.

The Canadiens added to their lead with five minutes left in the first period. Dominic Moore found a loose puck above the circles in the Penguins zone. He let go of a turning wrist shot that found its way into the goal. Montreal 2, Pittsburgh 0.

Montreal took a 3-0 lead on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing display three minutes into the second period. Andrei Kostitsyn used a turnover to keep the puck in the offensive zone. The Penguins scrambled to get back into coverage. Mike Cammalleri ended up with the puck on his stick by the near circle and one-timed a shot into the top corner of the net. Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 0.

The Canadiens built a daunting lead with their fourth goal of the game while shorthanded. Travis Moen made a great play to get around a Penguins defender at the Pittsburgh blue line. He then re-collected the puck in the faceoff dot and lifted a shot into the far corner for the shorty. Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 0.

The Penguins finally broke through with a goal halfway into the second period. Kris Letang took a shot from the far corner that appeared to hit Jaroslav Halak’s pad and off the referee to the side of the net. Chris Kunitz alertly found the rubber and slid it under the pads of Halak. Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 1.

The Penguins cut into the lead with another tally with 3:30 remaining in the second frame. Pittsburgh did a great job following a power play of maintaining possession in the offensive zone. The team set up a shot from the midpoint by Alexei Ponikarovsky. Jordan Staal, camped in front of the net, re-directed the lot shot high into the twine. Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 2.

The Canadiens took an insurmountable lead with a man-advantage goal midway through the third period. Cammalleri had the puck to the left of the cage and made a cross-crease pass to Gionta, who swatted in his second score of the night. Montreal 5, Pittsburgh 2.
Goaltender Brent Johnson replaced Marc-Andre Fleury early in the first period. The veteran backup played brilliantly, making several key saves to give his team a chance to stage a surge. He started with a great glove save on Scott Gomez while facedown on the ice. Johnson followed that with a kick save on Tomas Plekanec on the doorstep.

Tyler Kennedy made a smart play late in the second period. After a post-whistle skirmish broke out behind the Montreal goal, Kennedy coaxed Mike Cammalleri to drop the gloves. Each received two-minute penalties and assured that the dangerous Cammalleri would not be on the ice for a short duration.

Pascal Dupuis also deserves credit for earning a Penguins’ power play with great hustle at the end of the second period. Dupuis raced to get a flip pass from Sidney Crosby. Then he beat the Canadiens defender to the puck in the corner. Josh Gorges took a cross-checking penalty on the play.

The Penguins tweaked their lineup for Game 7. Pittsburgh inserted winger Alexei Ponikarovsky, who skated with Evgeni Malkin and Bill Guerin. To make room, center Mark Letestu was a healthy scratch. Ponikarovsky recorded an assist in the contest.
> Scoring Summary:
MON, B.Gionta PP (6), 0:32 1st period: Canadiens 1, Penguins 0
MON, D.Moore (3), 14:23 1st period: Canadiens 2, Penguins 0
MON, M.Cammalleri (12), 3:32 2nd period: Canadiens 3, Penguins 0
MON, T.Moen SH (2), 5:14 2nd period: Canadiens 4, Penguins 0
PIT, C.Kunitz (4), 8:36 2nd period: Canadiens 4, Penguins 1
PIT, J.Staal (3), 16:30 2nd period: Canadiens 4, Penguins 2
MON, B.Gionta PP (7), 10:00 3rd period: Canadiens 5, Penguins 2

> Following Pittsburgh’s 5-2 defeat to the Montreal Canadiens, the team was eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 Stanley Cup Final.

> Chris Kunitz notched his fourth goal of the postseason, a new single postseason career high.

> Jordan Staal tallied his third goal of the playoffs.
1. J.Halak
2. B.Gionta
3. M.Cammalleri

“There is no doubt if I had to go into a Game 7 I would pick every single guy in this dressing room.”
- Kris Letang

Author: Sam Kasan

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