Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Habs/Capitals - Game Seven: An upset for the ages


They said it couldn’t be done, but the Montreal Canadiens battled the odds and defeated the Washington Capitals in the seventh game of their Eastern Conference Quarter Finals.

It wouldn’t be easy on Wednesday night, as they would need to block 41 shots and rely on Jaroslav Halak to make 41 saves to preserve a 2-1 win.

The first period opened up with the Canadiens not showing the energy that hey had to start Game Six. The Capitals on the other hand had their chances with 11 shots on Jaroslav Halak, and one that went off the post.

On top of the near dozen shots, Washington added another 12 that were blocked by the Canadiens and out hit the underdogs 15-3.

Physically overmatched and outgunned, the Canadiens knew they’d need to take any opportunity they had and make it count. They did just that to close out the period.

Already playing four-on-four, the Capitals Mike Green wound up in the penalty box on a foolish cross-checking call. Montreal took advantage when Scott Gomez fed Marc-Andre Bergeron, who laced it past Semyon Varlamov at 19:31, to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.


Washington’s power play, just one for 30 in the series, had a pair of opportunities in the second period. Unfortunately for the Capitals, the Canadiens’ shot blocking and some key stops by Halak  added to their futility mark.

“I needed to do my best and the guys did the rest. They were scoring the goals and blocking the shots,” Halak said. “Before the game we said everyone needs to block shots.Tonight the guys were there.”

“It had to be done,” said Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges. “These guys shoot it from everywhere. We knew we’d have to pay the price to win this series.”

Montreal managed just three shots to the Capitals 13, yet still skated away with the lead after forty minutes.

The Capitals thought they had it tied up early in the third, but the goal was waved off as Mike Knuble’s skate had tied up Halak in the blue paint. Montreal had one of their own called off, near the midway point of the period, as Maxim Lapierre crashed into Varlamov.

The offense began to put on an attack for the Canadiens, getting several chances in the Capital’s end, even ringing one off the goal post.

They would hit there mark, thanks to a brilliant effort when Hal Gill chipped out a puck. Lapierre drew the hit while chasing the puck, allowing Dominic Moore to move in and give Montreal a two-goal cushion with 3:36 to play.


The Capitals finally solved Halak, when Brooks Laich found a rebound at 17:44.

With a final 1:44 of power play time, and Varlamov pulled from the goal, the Capitals had one final chance to tie it up. The Canadiens held strong to take the win and pull off the upset.

“He (Halak) played great,” said a dejected Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. “I don’t have words to say right now. I think everybody is disappointed.”

Montreal becomes the first eighth seeded team to win a series after being down three games to one.

“We’re extremely proud of how we played and how we competed,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “But you’ve got to give credit to the Capitals. I thought it was tremendous hockey and a tremendous series. Our goaltender was the difference.”



All three division winners in the Eastern Conference (Washington, Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils) have now been eliminated in the first round.

The Canadiens will fly directly to Pittsburgh in preparation for round two of the playoffs against the Penguins. That series will begin on Saturday.

“We’ll enjoy the moment tonight and tomorrow we’ll get ready for Pittsburgh,” Martin said.

Game’s Three Stars: 1. Jaroslav Halak 2. Marc-Andre Bergeron 3. Hal Gill

Related Links:

Habs Eyes On the Prize


image Montreal fans celebrate the Canadiens Game Seven win Wednesday night – Photo:

Game Photos: Bruce Bennett – Getty Images

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