These Habs just won’t die. For the second straight series, the Montreal Canadiens came up with a big Game 6 win at home to force a decisive Game 7 on their opponent’s home ice. In all of Montreal’s wins this series, they’ve scored early and been able to lock down their defense down the stretch. For a club that relies heavily on their goaltending and solid defensive coverage, an early lead is key.
Mike Cammalleri continued his dream of a postseason, scoring his 10th goal of the playoffs just over a minute into the first to get the Habs rolling, and Jaroslav Halak turned in yet another gem of a goaltending effort, stopping 34 of 37 Pittsburgh shots to lift the Canadiens to a 4-3 win in front of a loud and appreciative crowd at the Bell Centre. >
Sidney Crosby got his first goal of the series a few minutes after Cammalleri scored, batting a puck out of midair to knot that game at 1-1, and he assisted on Kris Letang’s powerplay goal early in the 2nd to put the Pens up 2-1. That was the last lead they would hold in the game though, as Cammalleri scored his 11th goal of the postseason just past the midpoint of the 2nd, and Jaroslav Spacek, playing in his first game since being injured against Washington and filling in for injured Hal Gill, gave the Habs a 3-2 lead to take into the 3rd period.
Pittsburgh came out flying in the 3rd, peppering Halak with 10 more shots in the final frame, but it was a goal from Max Lapierre that ended up being the game winner. Lapierre shook off a few checks down the boards and ducked his way to the front of the net where he was able to whip the puck around Marc-Andre Fleury, who has continued to have a very up-and-down playoffs so far. Bill Guerin would score a late goal to give the Pens a chance to tie it, but Halak stood tall during a late flurry to ensure that this series would go the full 7 games.
The Penguins were unable to continue their early series success on the powerplay, scoring on just one of five powerplays in Game 6, including missing a golden opportunity on an early 3rd period man advantage that would have tied the game. For the Habs, Game 7 is the ideal scenario, because they’ll be playing with no pressure as heavy underdogs on the road, and if they end up getting another early lead, don’t be surprised if they pull off another huge upset.