Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Canadiens/Penguins Game 7: Habs oust the champs!


On thing is for certain now in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there will be a new Stanley Cup Champion.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were ousted after Wednesday’s 5-2 Game Seven loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

The defending champions opened the game with a rather weak first period, while the Canadiens played their best period of the playoffs.

Montreal got on the board first after the Penguins Sidney Crosby took a roughing call right at the start. On the ensuing power play, Brian Gionta tipped a PK Subban shot, that snuck past Marc-Andre Fleury at 0:32.

Dominic Moore put the Canadiens up by two when he ripped a shot past Fleury at 14:23.

The Penguins found themselves being booed off the ice, by their own fans, at the end of the period. Meanwhile the Canadiens had a packed Bell Centre cheering them on at home.

"We played well together," said Canadiens defenseman Hall Gill, who returned to the lineup after missing Game Six with a cut to his leg.

"We got guys to step up at the right time, and that's what you need. In the playoffs, it's not about your star players. It's about everyone."

The Canadiens momentum carried into the second period when Mike Cammalleri one timed his 12th goal of the playoffs at 3:32.

It continued to get worse for Pittsburgh. On a penalty kill, Travis Moen got the puck out of the Montreal zone, and chipped the puck past Sergei Gonchar to beat Fleury at 5:14.

Having allowed four goals on 13 shots, Fleury was pulled in favour of Brent Johnson.

The home team responded to the goaltending change when Chris Kunitz squeaked a rebound past Halak at 8:36.

It started to look like a game when Jordan Staal deflected an Alexei Ponikarovsky point shot past Halak, at 16:30, to get the Penguins within two.

Pittsburgh out shot Montreal 13-7 in the second period and carried a 4-on-3 power play into the third.

The Canadiens came up big on the penalty kill, thanks it part to a spectacular save by Halak, off the stick of Crosby, that was easily the game-saver.

The Montreal netminder was called upon again on a second Pittsburgh man advantage minutes later, and had 37 saves on the night. The Penguins also had 26 shots that were blocked and 17 that missed the net.

Gionta added his second of the night, on a Canadiens power play, batting a saucer pass from Cammalleri out of mid-air past Johnson at 10:00.

"It just means we get to keep playing," said Cammalleri. "We might be changing some minds. We've had that underlying confidence. It's been good so far, but we have to get better."

"They came hard, created some chances and capitalized on every one of them," a disappointed Crosby said. “They find ways and you gotta give them credit for that.”

Montreal fans spilled out of the Bell Centre and surrounding taverns and into the streets in a massive, but peaceful, celebration.

The Canadiens will return home to await the winner of the second Eastern Conference Semi-Final between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers. That series goes to a seventh game on Friday.

Games Three Stars: 1. Jaroslav Halak 2. Brian Gionta 3. Michael Cammalleri

Notes: Mike Cammalleri becomes the first Canadiens player with a dozen goals in the playoffs since Guy Lafleur in 1975.

The series win comes as an early birthday present for the Canadiens’ Jaroslav Halak and P.K. Subban, who celebrate their 25th and 21st birthdays respectively on Thursday.

The game marks the final one at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena. The Canadiens bookend the arena’s history with wins at it’s opening in 1967 and on Wednesday night.

Game Photo: Dave Sanford (Getty Images)

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