Thursday, May 6, 2010

Canadiens/Penguins Game Four: Halak foils Pens, Refs


Jaroslav Halak took back his reign as the goalie of the playoffs, making saves to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 Game Four win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Halak had another “day at the office,” with a 33 save performance.

With and excited Bell Centre crowd behind them, the Canadiens opened the scoring when Tom Pyatt scored his first career playoff goal on a wrist shot went five hole on Marc Andre Fleury at 2:34.

Maxim Talbot replied on a two-on-one rush just a minute later. The Bell Centre crowd was looking for a penalty prior to the goal as P.K. Subban appeared to be tripped up by Ruslan Fedotenko.

Chris Kunitz added a power play marker at 5:18 to put the Penguins ahead. The goal was reviewed, as there was question to whether Kunitz had kicked the puck in.

The Penguins out shot the Canadiens 15-6 in the opening period that was full of questionable officiating calls. That trend by the officials carried throughout the game.

The game remained scoreless in the second period, with Pittsburgh still remaining in control. The Canadiens managed just three shots to the Penguins ten, and were blanked on their one power play chance in the period.

A totally different Canadiens team emerged from the dressing room in the third period.

Battling behind the Penguins net, Maxim Lapierre tied it up on a wrap around at 2:07

The Canadiens regained the lead just over a minute and a half later than a shot from Brian Gionta deflected off of Penguins defender Chris LeTang and past Fleury.

“The players recognized our performance was not too good in the first two periods,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “If you don’t make a commitment to shooting the puck, or getting your nose dirty, you’re not going to win the game.”

From then on, it was all Halak. The Slovak-born netminder made 16 saves in the period to earn the game’s first star.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” said Halak, noting the Canadiens unexpected playoff run. “We’re not even supposed to be here, but here we are. Tonight we were down 2-1 going into the third, and we showed a lot of character.”

The Canadiens goalie also got some help from his teammates, who blocked 23 Penguins shots. Hal Gill led Montreal with eight blocked shots.

“Everyone pulled together in the third,” Gill said. “Jaro stood on his head and kept us in the game, then we came around and found the way to get some goals.”

“Our blueline has really stepped it up,” Martin added. “The leadership of Gill and (Josh) Gorges really speaks volume of their character.”

The win for Montreal ties the series at two games apiece. Game Five goes Saturday night back in Pittsburgh.

Games Three Stars: 1. Jaroslav Halak 2. Josh Gorges 3. Maxime Talbot

Off the Bench: After spending all of Game Three on the Canadiens bench, forward Mathieu Darche played 8:12, assisting on the Lapierre goal, and was +1.

game photo: by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

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