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|Prior to the start of their semifinals showdown with the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh was aware of the stellar play of Habs goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 131 of 134 shots in the final three games (all wins) to eliminate Presidents’ Trophy winning Washington Capitals. |
But the Penguins were not daunted or discouraged. Pittsburgh made Halak appear much less than his spectacular form of the past three contests by burning him for five goals and chasing him from the crease early in the third period en route to a 6-3 Game 1 victory to open the series.
The Penguins weapon of choice was their power play, which went a perfect four for four. Pittsburgh’s four man-advantage scores were three more than the Capitals scored in seven games of the opening round, and tied a club postseason record (April 29, 1992 vs. Washington).
Thanks to their man-advantage execution the Penguins opened up a 3-1 lead and would never trail in the contest.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|(NHL.com) PITTSBURGH – Halak did not happen Friday night for the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.
Goalie Jaroslav Halak, canonized after stopping 131 of 134 shots in the last three games as Montreal fought its way past top-seeded Washington with three-straight elimination wins, was merely mortal on this night as Pittsburgh used its depth and wiles to record a convincing 5-3 victory to take Game 1 of the best-of-7 series. |
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Alex Goligoski celebrates his power-play, which gave Pittsburgh a 5-2 lead in the third period
(photo by Getty)
|What Went Well: Power Play |
The Penguins had an explosive, game-changing performance for their special teams. The power play was perfect, tallying four goals on four attempts, three more than Washington scored against Montreal in all seven games of the previous series. The four power-play goals tied a team postseason record (April 29, 1992 vs. Washington).
What Could Have Gone Better: Health
The Penguins won the battle but lost a huge part of their weaponry when center Jordan Staal was lost in the second period with an injury. Staal had played 357 consecutive games in a streak that dates back to his rookie season in 2006-07.
|Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski will share tonight’s award. Both players posted two-point nights with a goal and an assist. Letang scored with a perfect wrist shot in the second period to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. Goligoski’s one-timer in the third period gave the Penguins a 5-2 advantage and sealed the victory. |
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|The Montreal Canadiens scored the series’ first goal on P.K. Subban’s first career postseason tally. Subban collected the puck above the far circle and let go a slap shot. The puck deflected off the skate of Mark Eaton and sneaked under the pads of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Montreal 1, Pittsburgh 0. |
The Penguins evened the contest with a power-play goal eight minutes into the first period. Sergei Gonchar took a pass at the midpoint and ripped a slap shot through a perfect Bill Guerin screen and under the arm of goalie Jaroslav Halak. Pittsburgh 1, Montreal 1.
Pittsburgh added to its lead with another power-play goal with 6:33 left in the opening frame. Jordan Staal made a great play along the near wall to catch an airborne puck and gain possession. He dished to Alexei Ponikarovsky, who gave it right back. Staal skated into the slot and lifted a shot high into the net glove side on Halak. Pittsburgh 2, Montreal 1.
The Penguins added to their lead with their third power-play score of the game 2:34 into the second period. Sidney Crosby initiated the play by checking Scott Gomez, separating him from the puck and finding Kris Letang in the near point. Letang skated to the above near circle and wrist the puck over Halak’s glove for the goal. Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 1.
Montreal cut into the Pittsburgh lead with five minutes remaining in the second period. Scott Gomez had the puck behind the Penguins net. He found Mike Cammalleri in the slot. Cammalleri’s shot went far side into the netting. Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 2.
The Penguins regained their two-goal advantage with a late second-period score. Craig Adams, filling in for the injured Jordan Staal, took a centering pass from Pascal Dupuis. The unchecked Adams snapped the puck through the legs of Halak with 1:24 left in the frame. Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 2.
The Penguins posted their fourth power-play goal of the game early in the third period. Crosby made a cross-ice pass from the near wall to Alex Goligoski on the opposite side of the net. Goligoski one-timed a shot against the grain on Halak and into the net far side. Pittsburgh 5, Montreal 2.
Montreal cut into the lead with a man-advantage score 12 minutes into the third period. Brian Gionta re-directed Marc-Andre Bergeron shot from above the near circle into the air and over the shoulder of Fleury. Pittsburgh 5, Montreal 3.
Bill Guerin clinches the victory over Montreal with an empty-net score with 48.2 seconds left in the contest. Chris Kunitz made a great play to chip the puck ahead to Guerin in the neutral zone. The veteran glided towards the net and pushed the puck over the goal line. Pittsburgh 6, Montreal 3.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|The Penguins’ second power-play goal of the game reads Jordan Staal from Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alex Goligoski. But Matt Cooke deserves an honorable mention. Cooke drew the penalty following a crushing hit on Andrei Markov that knocked the Habs defenseman out of the game. The Canadiens retaliated on Cooke, and Pittsburgh scored on the ensuring man-advantage. |
|GAME NOTES |
|> Scoring Summary: |
MON, P.Subban (1), 4:30 1st period: Canadiens 1, Penguins 0
PIT, S.Gonchar PP (1), 8:38 1st period: Penguins 1, Canadiens 1
PIT, J.Staal PP (2), 13:27 1st period: Penguins 2, Canadiens 1
PIT, K.Letang PP (3), 2:34 2nd period: Penguins 3, Canadiens 1
MON, M.Cammalleri (6), 15:27 2nd period: Penguins 3, Canadiens 2
PIT, C.Adams (2), 18:36 2nd period: Penguins 4, Canadiens 2
PIT, A.Goligoski PP (2), 2:59 3rd period: Penguins 5, Canadiens 2
MON, B.Gionta PP (3), 12:29 3rd period: Penguins 5, Canadiens 3
PIT, B.Guerin EN (3), 19:11 3rd period: Penguins 6, Canadiens 3
> Pittsburgh took the early 1-0 lead in the series with Game 2 commencing Sunday at 2 p.m.
> The Penguins tied a postseason franchise record with four power-play goals (April 29, 1992 vs. Washington). Pittsburgh went a perfect four-for-four in the contest.
> Head coach Dan Bylsma has an all-time postseason record of 21-10, one victory shy of tying Eddie Johnston for second place on the team’s all-time wins chart.
> Crosby increased his NHL-best totals in points (16) and assists (11) with two helpers against Montreal.
> Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski and Bill Guerin each posted one goal and one assist for two-point games.
> Jordan Staal, Craig Adams and Sergei Gonchar each scored a goal.
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. S.Crosby |
|“Special teams are a huge part of every game. In the playoffs it’s always nice to get off to a good start early in the series.” |
- Mike Yeo