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Canadiens head to Game 7 with 4-3 win over Penguins

Image (1) Habs3-thumb-250x166-11229.jpg for post 1537

Montreal Canadiens 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3

Series tied 3-3

With all due respect to the diehard, and very vocal, Penguins fans out there, I wish there was some way the next game could be played right back at the Bell Centre.

With one of the loudest and most electric crowds I’ve ever seen backing them the Canadiens stunned the Penguins with a stellar performance, sending the series back to Pittsburgh with a big 4-3 in yet another impressive Game 6 performance. This time Jaroslav Halak didn’t have to be miraculous, merely great, as the Habs turned in yet another great team performance.

A team performance is exactly what was needed, as the Canadiens found some way to keep Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby under control with two of their top defensemen out and Jarolav Spacek returning from his injury. While some of the tactics were certainly borderline, the team as a whole did just enough to constantly frustrate Crosby, especially in the third period.

What was most impressive was the way the Habs responded to an early second period surge by the Penguins, one that put Pittsburgh up 2-1 after Kris Letang’s power play goal. The Habs regrouped and scored two quick goals of their own, stunning the Penguins and heading to the second intermission with a 3-2 lead and every ounce of momentum.

The Penguins would be held in check for most of the third, until Sergei Gonchar gave the Pens new life with his goal with just over a minute remaining. Yet with Fleury pulled, the Penguins were unable to muster another sustained attack and the Habs escaped with another big win.

For the second time in two rounds, the Montreal Canadiens are headed to a Game 7 on the road, with the chance to take out Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Their big victory over Washington in the first round will give the team all the confidence they’ll need to win, but you have to think that the Penguins will put up a much tougher fight than they did tonight.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have combined for just two goals and six assists in the series, as the Habs have focused on taking out the two centers and daring the Penguins’ wingers to beat them. It’s a strategy that overall has worked, and one that the Canadiens will look to continue to use in Game 7. For the Penguins, there’s no doubt this team needs more of an effort from its role players, the Max Talbot’s and the Tyler Kennedy’s and the Bill Guerin’s.

The Canadiens have proven that it’s not what your superstars do, it’s what the team does that counts. They’ll try and prove it once more in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.