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When Halak attacks

Monday, 20.10.2008 / 10:53 PM / News
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When Halak attacks
MONTREAL – Opponents thinking they’ve caught a break when they avoid facing Carey Price this season may want to revisit that theory. The truth is, staring down Jaroslav Halak hasn’t been much fun, either.

Two starts. Two wins. Two goals allowed. If Halak is in fact the Canadiens’ backup goalie this season, no one has gotten him that memo.

On a night where his teammates weren’t at their high-flying best, that proved to be a moot point, with Halak kicking aside all but one of the Panthers’ 36 shots.

“The 35 saves Jaro made tonight don’t even do his performance justice,” said Tom Kostopoulos. “He made a bunch of really tough saves on the 20 or so scoring chances the Panthers had tonight. Without him, Florida could have left here with a 6-2 win.”

Normally a man of few words, Andrei Markov could hardly contain himself when it came to his goalie’s rock solid effort against the pesky Panthers.

“He played a heck of a game tonight,” said Markov. “What he did tonight was amazing and without him we wouldn’t have gotten two points tonight.”

The game was a far cry from Halak’s first taste of action this season, a stress-free 6-1 drubbing of the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Oct. 11.

“That first game in Toronto, it didn’t really matter how many goals I would have let in,” recalled Halak of the blowout victory.  “Tonight was a much tighter game and it felt good to keep us in there long enough for the guys to score.”

Halak did exactly that, by holding down the fort until the Habs put the finishing touches on the Panthers. The 23-year-old netminder now finds himself with a microscopic 1.01 goals-against average and a near-perfect .967 save percentage. Unfazed by his early season success, Halak is already looking ahead to his next start. 

“It doesn’t make a difference to me what team I play against, every game is worth the same number of points,” reasoned Halak. “What matters to me is that the coach has the confidence to put me in there. I just need to be ready each time he does call on me.”

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com

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