Led by a brilliant performance by Mike Cammalleri, the Montreal Canadiens have forced a seventh game against the Pittsburgh Penguins by defeating them 4-3 on Monday night.
This means that the Penguins will have to try to close out the series at home on Wednesday night, but it also means that the Habs have put the Penguins up against the wall and have drastically changed their fortunes. If they can pull off a series win against the Penguins, the Canadiens will have defeated the defending Cup champions and will have knocked off the President’s Trophy winners all within this year’s post-season.
Defenceman Jaroslav Spacek was back in the line-up on Monday night and he contributed with a goal. Maxim Lapierre was there with the game-winner.
The Canadiens entered the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve more than proved their mettle by taking each of their series’ so far into the seventh game. Thanks to stellar goaltending by Jaroslav Halak and a general team effort that includes loads of shot-blocking and solid defensive play, the Habs actually look like they have a chance to seal the deal against the Penguins.
In fact, I’m not so sure that the Canadiens should be considered the underdogs anymore.
Sure, they’re missing the presence of Hal Gill. Gill was able to shut down Sidney Crosby for a lot of the series and his absence on Monday allowed Sid to score a goal to end his six-game scoring slump.
The crowd of 21,273 was behind their Habs from the get-go, even chanting and cheering throughout an entire television time-out after Cammalleri tied the game in the second period. The fans were truly part of the game, giving the home team an advantage as they worked to close it out.
With Halak playing like a man possessed and the rest of the team providing solid support, it looks like the Habs can accomplish the series win going into Wednesday night’s Game 7. Sure, they’ll have to deal with a rowdy Pittsburgh crowd and a fired-up Penguins club, but they may have done just enough to rattle Crosby and Co. to pull off what many thought was the impossible.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.