Welcome back, Halak
After being victimized for six goals in Game 2 and being yanked the following game, Halak got both his crease and his groove back on Friday night in Washington. With his team written off and fully expected to roll over and let the Capitals end the series on home ice, Halak had other ideas. An impressive 37 saves later and yada, yada, yada the Bell Centre will be a mad house when it hosts Game 6 on Monday night in Montreal.
“It wasn’t just me out there. We all came out strong,” claimed the game’s first star in typical Halak fashion. “The guys did a great job in front of me. We knew our season could end tonight and we didn’t want that.”
That was pretty obvious from the start. Rush after rush, the Capitals threw everything but the kitchen sink at Halak, but were only able to beat him once despite out-shooting the Habs by a 38-28 margin.
“Jaro went out and played his best game of the playoffs. He made all the difference tonight,” affirmed Michael Cammalleri, who didn’t exactly hurt his team’s cause either by opening the scoring a mere 90 seconds into the game.
“Talk is cheap,” added Cammalleri about his chronically humble netminder. “The best kind of leadership at this time of year is action and Jaro showed that here tonight.”
Halak’s once-again, standing room only bandwagon also includes someone who had his night ruined by the Habs goalie on Friday.
“He played really good there’s no question about that, but our guys who are supposed to score had great looks and just didn’t hit the mark. To me that’s like a checker missing an assignment,” fumed Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who was only getting warmed up. “We just can’t seem to get everyone doing what they’re supposed to do. We had 13 or 14 guys going tonight and another five or six passengers. We came out, played like crap for the first 10 minutes and the game was over.”
It was over because Halak delivered the playoff performance of his young career. With the weight of the world clearly off his shoulders after his night’s work, Halak also felt the need to get a little more off his chest.
“People can say whatever they want, but just so you know when you squeeze a water bottle, your hand shakes,” quipped Halak in reference to Alex Ovechkin’s claim that his hand shook when he drank from his water bottle in Game 2. “Check the tape from tonight. I was squeezing the bottle the same way and my hand was shaking again there too.”
One thing Halak didn’t shake after Game 5 was a Capitals player’s hand and he has no intention of doing that until after Game 7 back in Washington on Wednesday.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
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