Montreal 4 – Pittsburgh 3
Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 37-25 but it wasn’t enough as Michael Cammalleri scored twice and Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves, leading the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-3 win to set up a game 7 Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
The Canadiens surprising run continues and since game 4, the argument can be made that Montreal has been the better team with the better goaltender. A scary thought for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Montreal was opportunistic in the game and scored timely goals off of defensive miscues by Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh controlled the play through the first thirty minutes of the game, jumping out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Crosby (6) and Kris Letang (5) and out-shooting Montreal 21-9 near the mid-way mark of the second period.
However, Pittsburgh was not able to put the Canadiens away and once again let them hang around.
This time it was the play of Canadiens third line (Pyatt-Lapierre-Moore) that changed the momentum of the game around the nine minute mark in the second period and would put the Penguins away in the third period. With the Penguins buzzing with offensive chances and absolutely dominating the game, the Lapierre unit caught Pittsburgh’s 4th line in a long shift controlling the puck in the offensive zone for over a minute that led to a icing call.
Momentum began to shift for the Canadiens off of that shift as Pittsburgh was forced into a second icing call seconds later.
Just over a minute later, Mike Cammalleri (11) scored his second goal of the game at the 10:45 mark of the period and three and half minutes later, Jaroslav Spacek (1) scored the go ahead goal with a slap shot from just inside the blueline that got past Penguins goaltender Marc Andre Fleury.
The Canadiens scored on consecutive shots and Fleury failed to come up with a timely save and suddenly the game turned in the favor of Montreal and Pittsburgh was unable to take the lead again.
In the third, Maxim Lapierre (3) put the Penguins away, scoring 11:03 into the third to give Montreal a commanding 4-2 lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.
Lapierre not known for great individual play, beat Alex Goligoski with a power move from the left corner and drove to the net beating Marc Andre Fleury for what ended up being the game winning goal.
Pittsburgh lost the one-on-one battles and a Bill Guerin (4) deflected Sergei Gonchar’s slap shot from the right point past Jaroslav Halak with 1:24 remaining to get the Penguins within one wasn’t enough as Halak and the Canadiens held on to set up a showdown with the Penguins Wednesday night at Mellon Arena.
Halak made 34 saves and continues to outplay Marc Andre Fleury in the series who made 21 saves on 25 shots. Fleury’s effort was disappointing from the standpoint that he hasn’t been able to put together back-to-back dominant games.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in seven games in the first period and added an assist in the second period for his 19th point of the playoffs. Crosby led the Penguins with 26:10 of ice time.
Game 7 is Wednesday night
Notes: Pittsburgh scratched forwards Ruslan Fedotenko and Alexei Ponikarovsky for the second consecutive game.
Canadiens were without the services of shutdown defenseman Hal Gill. Gill who suffered a laceration to his leg in game 5, is hopeful to play in game 7.
Habs defenseman Andrei Markov missed his 5th straight game with a knee injury. Markov has skated for the past two days and there’s a slight chance he could be available for game 7.
Game 7 tickets go on sale Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.