Game preview #5: Canadiens-Penguins
TV: VERSUS (HD), CBC (HD), RDS (HD)
(Best-of-seven series tied, 2-2)
Big story: Nobody wants to be in the position of having to win two consecutive games just to stay alive in the postseason, but that's the scenario the loser of Saturday's crucial Game 5 will be in. In the conference quarterfinals, the team that won Game 5 went on to win six of the eight series.
Canadiens: Call it lucky if you want, but Montreal forced a 2-2 series tie with two third-period goals on Thursday, both ricocheting off the skates of Pittsburgh players. Maxim Lapierre's wrap-around shot banked in off goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, and Brian Gionta's pass found the net after hitting defenseman Kris Letang.
"That's why you play in Montreal, for moments like that," Gionta, who leads all NHL forwards in total ice time during the postseason with 246:38 in 11 games, told the Toronto Star.
"Third period, wow!" forward Mike Cammalleri said. "The momentum kind of built, and that's where the crowd can help. They were on their toes the whole period and we just fed off it and kept going."
Fourth-liner Tom Pyatt game Montreal a 1-0 lead in the first period.
"Goals have to come from everywhere, especially coming off a 1-0 game," forward Dominic Moore said. "Some nights goals are going to come on the power play; some nights, it's going to come from our stars; other nights, it's the defensemen. Tonight, the goals were coming from the third and fourth lines."
Tonight's game is Montreal's seventh on the road this postseason, and they have won four of six, scoring 18 goals and permitting 17. The only other team with four road wins this playoffs is Pittsburgh.
"We have nothing to lose," Halak said. "We're not even supposed to be here. No one gave us a chance to go through the first round."
Penguins: Pittsburgh squandered a 2-1 lead entering the third period in Game 4 on Thursday, reducing this series to a best-of-three.
The Penguins received goals from Maxime Talbot on a breakaway and Chris Kunitz on the power play in a 2:11 span in the first period. Pittsburgh held a 35-25 advantage in shots.
In the four games, Penguins stars Sidney Crosby (0-3-3) and Evgeni Malkin (1-1-2) have totaled only 5 points.
"You try to make sure you are doing your part," Crosby said. "I wouldn't change anything. Honestly, I wouldn't change what I am doing out there. All you try to do is try to do the right things and get the results."
Crosby has not scored a goal in the last five games, dating back to Game 5 against Ottawa. In five home games this postseason, he has 2 goals and 10 points. Malkin, too, has been better on home ice, scoring 2-4-6.
One positive from Game 4 was the return of two-way center Jordan Staal from a foot injury.
"The game played out pretty close to what I thought it might be for Jordan in terms of minutes he played and the situations he played in," coach Dan Bylsma said. "I didn't think he missed a step. I think he looked pretty good."
Should Pittsburgh lose Games 5 and 6 (Monday in Montreal), Saturday could be the final NHL game at Mellon Arena. The Penguins will move into the new Consol Energy Center next season.
Who's hot: Pyatt recorded a goal and an assist in Game 4 for Montreal. … Gionta has 3 goals and an assist in this series, and Cammalleri has 3 goals. … Since giving up 5 goals in Game 1, Halak is 2-1 with a 1.34 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage. … Pittsburgh defenseman Alex Goligoski has a goal and 3 assists in four games against Montreal. … Crosby is tied for the postseason lead with 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists). … Cammalleri has 8 goals, one behind Joe Pavelski of San Jose for the League lead.
Injury report: For the Canadiens, defenseman Jaroslav Spacek hasn't played since Game 3 against Washington with an undisclosed injury/illness. … For the Penguins, right wing Bill Guerin missed Games 3 and 4 with an undisclosed injury.
Stat pack: Montreal's 3-2 victory against Pittsburgh Thursday marked the 16th time in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs that a team won a game in which it trailed during the third period. … Also on Thursday, Gionta scored his fifth goal of the playoffs. He became the first U.S.-born player in franchise history to score as many as five goals in one playoff season. The previous record of four goals was shared by Chris Chelios and John LeClair. … Montreal is three wins away from 400 all-time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (397-279-5). … Bylsma has 22 career playoff wins with the Penguins. His next victory will tie him with Scotty Bowman for the most in franchise history.
Puck drop: "Once again I'll go back to it -- we're not supposed to be here, no one picked us to," Cammalleri said. "If we would say, 'Let's take two out of three going into Pittsburgh on Saturday,' I'd say, 'Why not?' "
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