There is absolutely no freakin’ way the Pens are going to close out Mellon Arena with a loss to Montreal. No way. Crosby won’t allow it. Fleury won’t allow it. The fans won’t allow it. At least that’s what I keep telling myself in wake of Monday’s unbelievably maddening 4-3 loss to the Habs that tied the series at 3 and sent it back to the Burgh for a deciding Game 7 Wednesday.
Montreal somehow did it again. Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves and Mike Cammalleri continued his post-season goal-scoring surge (2 Monday; 6 this series) to lead the way. Throw in a couple of hit posts on a second-period PP (Gonchar and Malkin) and a bogus early whistle early in the first (negating a Malkin goal), and the Habs staved off elimination in front of a rabid home crowd.
When Kris Letang beat Halak 5:21 into the second to make it 2-1, I had a good feeling. The Pens were dominating play, as has been the norm this series, and the Slovak netminder actually looked human. But, as has been the norm this series, the Pens could not score the next goal. Staal hit a post shortly after Letang’s tally.
Then a disastrous 2 ½-minute sequence midway through the second did the Pens in. Cammalleri scored on a nice effort to tie it up, then Jaroslav Spacek – playing his first game since Game 3 in the first round – blasted a shot through traffic and past Fleury to give the Habs the lead for good.
Pest Maxim Lapierre abused Alex Goligoski with 8:57 left in the game to give Montreal a two-goal lead that turned out to be huge after Bill Guerin tipped home Gonchar’s shot with 1:24 left. It was too little way too late, though, and the game ended with Montreal trying to further agitate Crosby and Guerin battling with P.K. Subban.
Crosby got his first goal of the series in the first and assisted on Letang’s goal, but he’ll have to raise his game to another level Wednesday. And I’m sure Hal Gill plays, which will make things even tougher.
I can’t say it enough: Montreal is on an unbelievable run right now. This was the worst team to make the NHL playoffs. They beat the overall #1 seed, and now they find themselves in Game 7 against the defending Cup champs.
The pressure in on the Pens in a big way, and the Habs have absolutely nothing to lose (as we’ve heard Cammalleri say at least 23 times). But don’t you have to believe the Pens find a way to win Game 7 at home? For what it’s worth, I do. I’m not ready to say good-bye to the old Arena just yet.