“I can see them winning,” said Washington’s Bruce Boudreau about the Habs in game seven. “Whoever scores the first goal will win.”
First goal? They scored the first four goals.
They also held off the Penguins when it became just a 4-2 lead and Pittsburgh was gaining heart-stopping momentum. The Habs killed a penalty that began at the end of the second period and carried on into the third, and as we all know, we didn’t want the gap closed any further. But Jacques Martin’s boys didn’t panic and they scored again to make it a nice, lovely 5-2 lead.
And now, the Montreal Canadiens have done what very few thought they could do – first dismiss the league-leading Washington Capitals, and then do the same with the defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins – the teams with the glamour boys, while the Habs were too small with a hurting defence and an excess of plumbers.
For the first time since the playoffs began, I’m going to say it; Like a dream, the Montreal Canadiens have a very real shot at winning the Stanley Cup. They’ve taken out two great teams in solid fashion, with a goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, leading the charge, with diminutive stars Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta sniping away, with Hal Gill back and now able to rest his 52 stitch gash in his leg for several extra days, and, as a bonus to the whole swell affair, these same several days rest gives Andrei Markov the time to heal even more.
And kudos to all Habs players. Every forward, every defenceman. The entire team played with such guts and heart and patience, did the little things well, stuck to the system, and frustrated both the Caps and the Pens to no end. It’s a Cinderella story and it needs to have a few extra chapters added in the near future.
Game seven began with a nice little surprise as Sidney Crosby took a roughing penalty just ten seconds in, and with the snake-bitten star in the box, Brian Gionta scored his first of two at the 32 second mark. It was that all-important first goal, the one Boudreau spoke of, and it came at the expense of Sidney Crosby.
Crosby ended with just one goal in the seven-game series, as did Evgeny Malkin which has to be a major disappointment to all concerned in the Penguins organization. It wasn’t expected. They gotten it done in spades last year, but not this year. Both superstars were outplayed by Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, and in goal it was no contest as Marc-Andre Fleury was chased from the Pittsburgh net after Travis Moen burned down the side, breezed past Sergei Conchar, and scored a tremendous shorthanded goal, while at the other end, Jaroslav Halak was his usual mind-bloggling brilliant self.
And can we have a nice moment of gratitude for Bob Gainey, who assembled this crazy bunch of beautiful bastards.
Dominik Moore notched the Habs second goal in the first, Mike Cammalleri scored his team’s third marker, which was the winner, and Gionta gave us the fifth and final of the game – the one that allowed Habs fans to exhale again.
Canadiens now wait. They wait and watch as Boston and Philadelphia battle it out in a hopefully exhausting and bruising game seven. C’mon Bruins and Flyers, beat the daylights out of each other.
The following comes from Danno, which he sent early in the first period, long before the outcome was decided. This is how I want this post to end – with Danno’s words.
“The Habs have been fighting game seven-type situations for what seems like forever. Every game at the end of the season – when they were fighting for precious points to make the playoffs – was like a game seven. Games five and six against Washington were do or die as was game seven itself. Game six against the Pens was also a do or die situation for the Habs.
They learned to fight for their lives during these key games and heroically found a way to win for each of the above situations – in spite of injuries, the refs, the horrid scheduling. In spite of it all, they have shown a burning desire to win and have become the team that just won’t quit.
They face a team that is not as familiar to such situations. A team that has a sense of entitlement and who made it to the playoffs with relative ease. The league’s darlings are used to having everything handed to them on a silver platter and they almost expected the Cup to be sent to them – giftwrapped.
Then we came along…
The Habs have gone through hell and back this wild and crazy season and have seen it all. Consequently, they have had their collective mettle tested. The Pens, not so much.
Post-game announcement from the Mellon P.A. system – “Would a Mister Sidney Crosby please turn out the lights and hand in his keys at the security desk. Thank you and have a good night.”