How the Pittsburgh Penguins lost the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images) /

When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens met in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, it marked just the second time the team’s had ever met in the postseason, here is a look back at their seven-game series.

When the Pittsburgh Penguins, entered the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, one of the key storylines to watch was the matchup between the playoff’s leading scorer Sidney Crosby and hottest goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

The bigger story to develop over the series was Montreal’s ability to contain the Penguins superstars with the help of an old Pen-friend.

Here is a look at how the Penguins lost the 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

So it Begins

Game 2

Following a 6-3 win in game 1 of the series, the Penguins looked to head to Montreal with a 2-0 series lead.

The Canadiens entered the second game of the series without the services of Andrei Markov, who was injured in Game 1 following a hit from Matt Cooke.

The story of the game was the performance of Halak, who made 38 saves on 39 shots ( 7 from Chris Kunitz, five from Tyler Kennedy and four from Alex Goligoski) it was a strong bounce-back effort after Halak allowed five goals on 20 shots in Game 1.

Another narrative that continued to develop in game 2 was the Canadiens’ ability to shut down Crosby.

Former Penguin Hal Gill and Josh Gorges were given the task, limiting Crosby to two points through the first two games.

It did not hurt that Gill had intimate knowledge of what makes Crosby tick.

The Penguins lost Jordan Staal to a tendon injury that needed surgery to repair after a collision with P.K. Subban.

Game 4

Following the Penguins 2-0 win in game 3 that saw Evgeni Malkin score his first goal of the series, and Crosby held off the scoresheet for the second consecutive game, the series shifted back to Montreal with the Canadiens looking to avoid going down 3-1 in the series.

The game started off with Montreal scoring a weak goal from Tom Pyatt, less than three minutes into the game, and that trend continued the rest of the night.

The goal that stung the most was Brian Gionta‘s game-winning-goal that deflected into the net off Kris Letang‘s skate early in the third period.

Malkin had the best chance to tie the game up with a breakaway later in the period but was turned away by Halak.

Hall and Gorges continued their domination of Crosby, who managed five shots and earned his third point of the series (all on the powerplay).

With a 3-2 win, the Canadiens tied the series up at two games apiece.

Losing Ground

Game 6

Pittsburgh took a 3-2 series lead back to Montreal Following a 2-1 win in game 4. If Montreal was going to tie the series up history was not on their side.

Dating back to 1998, the Canadiens were eliminated on home ice six times, and the Penguins had captured the last five of their series wins on the road.

The bad news for Pittsburgh was Crosby and Malkin had zero even-strength goals and overall seven of the Penguins 13 goals in the series were scored on the powerplay.

Compounding Montreal’s issues was that Gill was unavailable for game 6 following a laceration he received on the leg from Kunitz in Game 5.

Crosby’s first goal of the series and the return of Bill Guerin were not enough for the Penguins to close out the series as the Canadiens sneaked out a 4-3 victory. Guerin struck with less than two minutes left in the game to draw Pittsburgh within one goal, but that is as close as they got.

Game 7

The Penguins had competed in 12 Game 7’s since 1975 and carried a record of 7-5 in those games. Sadly Pittsburgh was not able to put another in the win column, as the Canadiens took the game and the series with a 5-2 victory.

Pittsburgh fell behind 4-0 before Kunitz put them on the board, and overall the Penguins peppered Halak with 39 shots (six from Malkin and five from Crosby).

It was the first time in their 100 year history that Montreal claimed victories in consecutive Game 7’s, after defeating Washington in the first round and Pittsburgh in the second round.

Aside from Halak’s stellar play, Crosby just could not find a way to get ignited, with Gill chained to his hips, and that proved to be the bigger issue for the Penguins.

The game would also be the final game to be played in the Civic Arena (Mellon), as the Penguins got ready to move into their new home.

What were some of your favorite moments from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Canadiens series and do you think the Pittsburgh Penguins could have won if Crosby was able to put some more goals in?

Drop them in the comment section below!