Monday, May 10, 2010

Canadiens/Penguins Game 6: No Markov, No Gill, No Problem!


Mike Cammalleri potted two goals and Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With the rash of injuries plaguing the Canadiens, things did not look promising heading into Game Six. Andrei Markov was cited as out with a leg injury and Hall Gill was a game-time decision with a cut to his leg and did not play. The good news was that Jaroslav Spacek was good to go, and played a key role in Monday’s victory.

If front of a pumped Bell Centre crowd, Montreal jumped out early Cammalleri blew a one-timer past Marc-Andre Fleury at 1:13.

The Penguins got it back, shortly after a failed power play, when Sidney Crosby batted a deflected puck in mid air at 7:22.

The first twenty minutes was controlled by Pittsburgh, with the Penguins mounting a 13-6 shot advantage.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions had a pair of early power play chances in the second period, and connected on the second one when Kris Letang fired a shot that trickled under Halak’s arm at 5:21.

Montreal tied it up when Cammalleri fired a backhander past Fleury’s blocker, for his 11th goal of the playoffs, at 10:45. The last Canadiens player to score 11 or more goals in the post-season was Vincent Damphousse in 1993.

The Bell Centre crowd was behind it’s team for the full 60 minutes. After the second Montreal goal, PA announcer Michel LaCroix had to wait through the entire TV timeout for the crowd’s cheering to subside, before he could announce the goal.

“We’re really appreciative for their support,” Cammalleri said. “It’s the most amazing environment you can imagine.”

Spacek put the Canadiens in front with a low point shot that went through Fleury’s legs at 13:15. It was the first goal of the playoffs for Spacek, who had missed the last nine games with a viral infection.

“I was surprised that the puck went through,” he said. “I was just trying to get the shot on goal.”

Spacek played a flawless defensive game, making several defensive plays to spoil the Penguins scoring chances.

“The first period was tough on me,” the rearguard added. “Overall I felt pretty good and as the game went on I felt better.”

Backing the veteran were youngsters P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges, who logged 29:11 and 25:51 of ice time respectively. Gorges stepped in for Gill in shot blocking department with six to lead the team.

From there, the period’s momentum strongly swung in Montreal’s favor as the Canadiens took over the remaining minutes, drawing a late Pittsburgh penalty.

The third period saw offensive exchanges at both ends with Fleury and Halak both turning away scoring opportunities from both teams.

Montreal continued to put the pressure on as Maxim Lapierre made great one-man effort to give the Canadiens a two-goal lead at 11:30.

The Penguins refused to give up, pulling Fleury for the extra attacker. With 1:24 to go, Bill Guerin tipped a Sergei Gonchar point shot past but it would be as close as they would get.

“We liked the way we stayed with it, instead of sitting back,” Cammalleri added. “We’re trying to get better, we’re trying to improve. Tonight’s game was a big step.”

The Canadiens win forces a deciding seventh game back in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Fans in Montreal will be able to catch the game on the giant screen at the Bell Centre. Tickets go on sale Tuesday at noon for $7.50 (includes in-bowl animation, a DJ, games door prizes) at, the Bell Centre Ticket Office or by phone at (514) 790-2525 / 1-877-688-8269.

Three Stars: 1. Michael Cammalleri 2. Jaroslav Spacek 3. Jaroslav Halak

game photo: Montreal Gazette (Dave Sidaway)

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