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Habs Refuse to Die; Game 7 Looms

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.

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  • Bugs

    Halak is Slovak, not Czech.
    And better say goodbye to the Mellon, you know, just in case…

    • Bill Mayer

      Damn! Apologies for the mistake. Point taken on saying my good-byes…

  • http://BroadStreetBuzz.com Eugene Markman

    You’re confident. The fans are probably confident. But why is this 8 seed doing so well. Why did they beat Washington, and why are they on the verge of upsetting you? Most importantly, how do the Penguins players feel about all of this. Are they scared, or will they be focused enough? I love Game 7′s!

    • Bill Mayer

      I love Game 7s too, Eugene…just not when they involve my team.

  • Norm

    Why are all Pittsburgh fans (I am one) so intent on ignoring the obvious. The Pens forward played amazing until that 2 1/2 minute sequence. Halak was a wall – but they got through. All Fleury had to do was stop the easy shots. The ones that come from the face-off circle or about there, with nobody in front to screen him. Halaks stops every one of those. so do most goalies in the play-offs. But not Fleury. He4 makes the “wonderful” saves. The guys on Fox are paid to gush over those. But he would not need to get these, if he stopped the easy shots. It must be so frustrating to be a forward on that team. No matter how hard you work, you can’t expect to win unless Fleury decides he does not have a off-night.

    Maybe the Pens need to loose. Then Pitsburgh, and the team’s management will see Fleury for what he is – an erratic, flustered, expensive hole in front of the net. And they might replace him with an average goalie – who stops the easy ones.

    • Bill Mayer

      Damn, Norm, you’re tough on Fleury! Listen, I’ve defended the man in the past, and I’m willing to cut him some slack due to the fact he helped lead us to the promised land last year. I’ll admit he wasn’t great this season, but nobody was complaining when he pitched a shutout in Game 3 or when he played great in Game 5. His inconsistency can be maddening, which is why a lot of fans are tough on him. Nonetheless, I think he’s our goalie for the long-term.

  • http://yahoo hockeyhawk16

    Get ready to say goodbye to your arena, Montreal is for real.

    • ty

      montreal is going to kick pittys ass and go cammelari you see calgary was just a …training camp for him(which we still had him