Thursday, May 13, 2010
Hearty Habs Knock Out Defending Champions Pittsburgh
Photo: PK Subban and Mike Cammalleri/Courtesy of PicApp
And in the end, the Cinderella story Montreal Canadiens proved to be too much for not only the President's Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, but they've now knocked out the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins with last night's commanding 5-2 win. The hearty Habs shellshocked Sidney Crosby and mates and silenced a sold-out Pittsburgh crowd in what ended up being the Penguin's final game at the landmark Igloo.
Crosby got off to a rocky start, getting the whistle for a cross-check merely 10 seconds into the first period. It was apparent in the latter games in this series that Halak and the Habs were frustrating him and Brian Gionta made him pay with this early trangression, trickling the puck by Marc-Andre Fleury. Of course, pesky Matt Cooke added to the Pens' woes, taking a high-sticking call about 20 some seconds after Crosby's penalty. Birthday boy (a whopping 21 years of age today - happy birthday!) and spunky rookie PK Subban earned the assist on Gionta's goal along with Scott Gomez. Dominic Moore made it 2-0 for the Canadiens with a sizzling wrister at 14:23. The Penguins seemed to be sleepwalking through the first period and Fleury's struggles only compounded the situation.
Mike Cammalleri's hot streak doesn't appear to be fading anytime soon as he netted his twelfth goal of the playoffs early in the second period. Two minutes later Travis Moen scored a shorty and stunned the Penguins with a 4-0 advantage. After Moen's tally, Coach Dan Bylsma gave Fleury the hook and replaced him with former Caps' net minder Brent Johnson. Penguins' faithful found reason to cheer in the latter part of the second period as Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal each banked a goal - cutting their deficit to two going into the dressing room.
The Penguins continued to bring it in the third but Jaroslav Halak continued his jaw-dropping play, stopping 18 shots by the home team in a dazzling display of goal-tending magic. The Penguins had two too-many men penalties in the third period and Brian Gionta put the final pin in Pittsburgh's balloon to capture a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. In an amazing run, the 8th-seeded Habs have now knocked off the number-one seeded, President's Trophy winning Capitals and now the defending champion Penguins. There has to be a little feeling of relief (albeit a tiny one) for Caps fans as this gutsy Canadiens team held Sid the Kid to one goal (5 points total) and Jaro Halak has proven that he is indeed composed of brick wall material. In the aftermath of the fallout, the Crosby and Ovechkin comparisons have already started. And Penguins d-man Brooks Orpik had this to say about the no-quit Habs: "A lot's going to be put on us like it has been all series. I mean, they've beaten Washington and now they've beaten us. I think it's time to give this team some credit for what they've done rather than picking apart why we didn't do what we were supposed to do."
So a heartfelt congratulations to the history-laden Canadiens and their passionate fans. Now HM can go to the family wedding in Pittsburgh this weekend with just the slightest hint of a smirk on my face and not have to listen to any trash talking of my beloved Capitals. Priceless...