And time runs out in Game 7 and it's the Montreal Canadiens advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals as they defeat the Penguins, 5-2, in what will go down as the final game in Mellon Arena history. Pittsburgh will come up short in its bid to repeat as champions, but you have to hand it to this team for the run they have given us the past three seasons. We thank you for our support all season long and we will see everybody across the street at CONSOL Energy Center next October.
Once again the Canadiens penalty killers come up big and kill off a Pittsburgh power play.
Pittsburgh uses its timeout.
Gill takes another penalty to give the Penguins yet another late power play.
Although their dream of a repeat might be fading, at least the Penguins and their fans are going down with a fight. Nobody has given up here at the Arena, and that is what makes the Penguins, hockey and our fans so special.
Montreal picks up its second man-advantage tally of the night as Gionta swats a puck out of the air behind Johnson for his second goal of the night. Canadiens 5, Penguins 2.
Slight delay here as the ice crew at Mellon Arena repairs a broken pane of glass directly behind Halak.
Pittsburgh is called for a too many men on the ice call.
Despite more good looks the Canadiens are able to kill the Gill penalty. Still, the Penguins continue to come hard.
Halak is making a living in this series stopping Malkin alone. He just somehow got a pad on a Malkin drive from 12 feet away.
We are in good shape now ... RENEGADE IS PLAYING!! Great call by Billy Wareham, who runs the game night crew for the Penguins.
Gill takes a holding call behind the net on Crosby as the Penguins captain makes a patented spin move. HUUUUUUUUUGE sequence here!
Halak comes about six feet out in front of his blue paint to control a slap shot by Letang from the right point as the Penguins had traffic right on his grill.
Talbot and Craig Adams
have a good scoring chance right off a forward faceoff win but Halak manages to keep the puck out of the net. They reviewed the play in Toronto, but the whistle blew before the puck crossed the line.
Montreal kills off the penalty and we are back at full strength.
Pittsburgh begins with a 1:50 power play, 1:00 of which will be 4-on-3.THIRD PERIOD
SECOND PERIOD NOTES:
- Pittsburgh outshot the Canadiens, 13-7, in the second period.
- Alex Goligoski and Tyler Kennedy
lead the Penguins with three shots apiece.
- Sidney Crosby
is 10-7 on faceoffs.
The Penguins skate to the locker room to a heroes' cheer as they cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-2 after 40 minutes. They will begin the final period with 1:00 to work with on a 4-on-3 power-play and 1:50 total in PP time. This is so doable!!!!!
It's almost as if the Canadiens want the Penguins to stage the biggest comeback in Mellon Arena history! Gorges just took a BAD cross-checking penalty on Dupuis in the corner, putting the Penguins on the man-advantage.
The fans want a roughing penalty on Gill after he hits a Penguin after the whistle. Now Kennedy and Cammalleri mix it up behind the net. I wasn't at Game 1 of the 1992 Final, but I can't even imagine if it was louder than this. Four-on-four action as Kennedy and Cammalleri both get minors.
OH MY GOSH! I can't even here my boss next to me because the place is blowing the roof off cheering for Geno's dad waving a towel during the timeout!!! "GENO! GENO! GENO!" WOWWOWOOW!
This is like a whole new game as the Penguins have taken over and so is the crowd! Keep it up Penguins Nation!
Johnson robs Plekanec in the slot with a pad save.
The Penguins don't score on the power play, but they do shortly thereafter! Taking advantage of a broken stick by Montreal, Ponikarovsky rips a shot from the center point which is deflected right outside the crease by Jordan Staal
! Let's Go Pens!!! Canadiens 4, Penguins 2.
Roman Hamrlik inexplicitly interferes with Ponikarovsky away from the puck, putting the Penguins back on the power play.
Great defensive recovery by Eaton as he hustles back to stick check the puck from the blade of Moen as the Canadien forward was looking at a breakaway.
Tom Pyatt one-arms a shot towards Johnson but somehow through some traffic the Penguins netminder finds a way to make the stop.
OK!!! Maybe we aren't done yet!!! A Letang shot hits off traffic in front of the cage and right there was Kunitz to slam a shot under Halak. Hopefully that gets the ball rolling! Canadiens 4, Penguins 1.
The Penguins continue to fire away as Talbot is set up by Eaton in the slot, but Halak blockers that shot into the netting.
Johnson is down and out but he finds a way to rob Gomez with a glove save.
Halak is still proving to be a wall, robbing Malkin's one-timer in the slot with a pad stop.
There's the potential back-breaker. Travis Moen catches up to a loose puck at the top of the left circle and beats Fleury over the glove for the shorthanded goal. Brent Johnson
comes out to replace Fleury. Canadiens 4, Penguins 0
Kostitsyn takes a roughing penalty. The Penguins absolutely have to score here!
Another turnover by the Penguins and its another Montreal goal as Mike Cammalleri picks up his 7th goal of the series on a pretty tic-tac-toe feed from Andrei Kostitsyn and Jaroslav Spacek. Canadiens 3, Penguins 0.
If we are looking for small positives, this entire period has been played in the Montreal zone as Pittsburgh is getting to its game.
Pittsburgh gets the start they want as the seas open in the slot for Dupuis, but his drive is denied by Halak. Still, that's the speed the Penguins want to generate coming through the neutral zone.
If there's one thing the Penguins can do, it's thrive under pressure. Is there anything bigger than what they now face?
FIRST PERIOD NOTES:
- The Penguins won the faceoff battle, 13-9.
- Pittsburgh also outhit the Canadiens, 20-9.
- Montreal blocked eight shots in the first period.
We are 20 minutes into this decisive Game 7 and the Canadiens hold a 2-0 lead and a 10-8 shots advantage. Still plenty of game time left though.
I'll also give this to Canadiens fans - they sure do travel well. There are a couple nice-sized pockets of Habs fans sitting together making noise.
A dump-in to the Montreal zone forces Halak to come play the puck and it gets caught in his skates but his teammates come back to help before Cooke or Staal could put it in an open cage.
Say this about the Canadiens, they certainly are opportunitstic. A turnover in the middle of the Penguins zone leads to Moore beating Fleury between the legs to give the Habs a two-goal advantage. Canadiens 2, Penguins 0.
The Penguins receive the kind of shift they would love to have every time out by the Staal line and NOW THIS PLACE IS GOING CRAZY!! The Habs ice the puck and the Penguins have a chance to take over!
The crowd is trying to cheer Malkin on with "Geno! Geno! Geno!" chants.
And the Canadiens kill off that man-advantage situation.
Fleury makes another key stop on Plekanec, this time using his stick as Plekanec had a step on the D shorthanded.
Now the Penguins will trot their power play onto the ice in a key situation as Dominic Moore is in the sin bin for interference.
Maxim Lapierre hits the post to the left of Fleury as he picks up a loose puck in the slot and has the Penguins goaltender down and out. Maybe that is the momentum change Pittsburgh needed.
Not sure how close Gill is to 100 percent. He just fell over as Crosby blew by him in the neutral zone.
Montreal is getting a bit sloppy with its puck management. They just had their second turnover of the first five-plus minutes on a giveaway to Cooke. Pittsburgh has to keep applying the pressure and they will be fine.
Pittsburgh almost got the break they needed but Ponikarovsky couldn't pick up a loose puck at the side of the far post following a giveaway by Montreal.
Cooke returns and the Penguins can start this game over.
Fleury slides across his crease to deny a one-timer off the stick of Tomas Plekanec as the Canadiens continue to work on the man-advantage.
This is certainly not what the Penguins wanted. Brian Gionta deflects a PK Subban shot between the legs of Fleury for a power-play goal and Matt Cooke
is given a penalty right before the goal. WOW! Canadiens 1, Penguins 0.
Just 10 seconds in Sidney Crosby
is given a boarding penalty.
Here we go ... Let the showdown begin!
STAT OF THE NIGHT:
The Penguins have won their past four Game 7s.
7:04 PM: I can tell you this, the whiteout crowd here at Mellon Arena is going absolutely bonkers right now! The Penguins are definitely going to have a home-ice advantage tonight. Hopefully they can give the fans something to cheer about right away! Nobody is in their seat right now!
We have the roster report and the Canadiens will have Hal Gill available tonight. He will start the game on defense alongside usual partner Josh Gorges. Andrei Markov, however, will not play despite taking the warmup. For Pittsburgh, Alexei Ponikarovsky takes the place of Mark Letestu and will skate to the left of Evgeni Malkin
and Bill Guerin.
"Winner-take-all." "Win or go home." "Do or die." You can throw all the cliches in the world out there because all are applicable tonight as the Penguins and Canadiens do battle in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Mellon Arena. The winner moves on to face either Boston or Philadelphia in the conference finals, while the loser is done until next season. Following the next 60 minutes (and more, if necessary) somebody will step up and play the role of hero, adding to his team's illustrious history. You can feel the excitement generating throughout the building already!
Author: Jason Seidling