CANADIENS BEAT PENGUINS IN GAME 7 TO ADVANCE TO EAST FINALS
The Montreal Canadiens followed up a monumental upset by pulling off another, and now the Pittsburgh Penguins are joining the Washington Capitals in sitting out the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Brian Gionta had two power-play goals, Mike Cammalleri scored his seventh goal of a series in which he upstaged Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the Canadiens built a stunning four-goal lead before beating the Penguins 5-2 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday night.
Believe it, Canadiens. Disbelieve it, Penguins.
Montreal, about the last team anyone would have picked to beat the top-seeded Capitals, much less the reigning NHL champion Penguins, accomplished what no team has done since the current playoffs format was adopted in 1994. And that’s beat the Presidents’ Trophy winners and the Stanley Cup champions in successive rounds as an eighth-seeded team.
When it ended, the Canadiens crowded around goalie Jaroslav Halak , who made 37 saves in a performance not quite as dominating as that in Montreal’s 2-1 elimination win of Washington, but one that sent the Penguins home and shut down the NHL’s oldest arena.
As remarkable as the upset was — the Canadiens trailed 3-2 in the series before rallying to win the final two games — was how they did it. They silenced the standing room crowd of 17,132 in the last game played at 49-year-old Mellon Arena by seizing a 1-0 lead with only 32 seconds gone after Crosby took a bad penalty on his first shift, then built it to 4-0 with barely 25 minutes gone.
Gionta scored on that Crosby- created power play, Dominic Moore made it 2-0 later in the period and Cammalleri scored his playoff-leading 12th goal at 3:32 of the second. The Penguins and their shellshocked crowd almost couldn’t seem to fathom what was happening.
The tone was set when Crosby was called for driving Josh Gorges into the boards with 10 seconds gone — it was Pittsburgh that took the bad penalties, made the wrong decisions, stood around as the other team skated past them.