object>There are many things that will be written and said about the Canadiens shocking upset win over the Washington Capitals in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference quarter final series but the one that stands out to me is the fact that in four home games, the Capitals had a lead a total of 6-minutes and 47-seconds.
Dominic Moore’s second career playoff goal with 3:36 remaining proved to be the difference maker. It gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead. From there the Canadiens had to survive a goal by Brooks Laich 1:20 later and a Capitals power play when Ryan O’Byrne was caught for highsticking Mike Knuble with 1:44 remaining.
It was another brilliant night for goaltender Jaroslav Halak who stopped 41 of 42 shots. In the three win comeback Halak stopped 131 of 134 Capitals shots. The Canadiens defence, led by Hal Gill and Andrei Markov blocked another 41 Capitals shots. Gill and Markov blocked 6 apiece; O’Byrne – 5 and Tom Pyatt was in front of four.
The Canadiens protected a 1-0 lead from the 19:30 mark of the first period after Marc-Andre Bergeron’s power play goal.
The upset is colossal. The Canadiens have the worst record among the sixteen playoff teams and the Capitals were the best in the regular season and finished 33 points ahead of the Habs.
Next up – the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Game Story
Out Fast Again – Like Monday night the Capitals took early control. They took the first four shots of the game with alex Ovechkin getting the best chance at the 40 second mark.
Big Scare- at 12:10 off a three on two Alexander Semin took the pass from Laich and hit the post.
Jaro! Jaro! – At the 18-minute mark Halak made his biggest saves of the period on first Brooks Laich and the lunging across to get his pad on Semin. In the aftermath of the play, Tomas Plekanec and Shaone Morrison picked up roughing minors.
Dumb and Dumber – While playing 4-on-4 Mike Green tracked down Andrei Markov inside his own blueline and crosschecked. The penalty came at 19:18 and presented the Canadiens with a 4 on 3 power play.
First Blood – Scott Gomez won the faceoff deep in the Washington end cleanly. Back to Markov. To Bergeron, back to Markov, back to Bergeron for the 40 one-timer. 1-0 Canadiens. The goal came 12-seconds after penalty was called and with ten seconds left in the period. The Canadiens scored at least a power play goal in six of the seven games.
Close Call – Forty seconds into the period Brian Gionta hit the post behind Varlamov.
Re-Taking Momentum – the Capitals outshot the Canadiens 14-3. Mike Green hit the post midway through the period but mostly the shots were easily handled by Halak. The rest were handled by a defence that blocked 14 shots in the period.
Third Period –
No Goal- At the 24 second mark of the period the Capitals scored by referee Dan O’Halloran waved it off, ruling that Mike Knuble had backed into Halak in the crease thereby not allowing him to play the shot.
The 30th Shot – At 6:01 of the third, Halak had to be brilliant on Niklas Backstrom who was set up by Ovechkin. Shots were 30-12.
Still Pushing – At 10.35 with the Capitals swarming the crease, Halak stopped John Carlson. At 16 minutes Ovechkin made one of his few effective rushes end to end for a shot on Halak.
Breathing Room – With 3:36 remaining, Hal Gill sent the puck up the boards from his own end. Maxim Lapierre, chasing the puck down inside the Capitals line, took out the underachieving Mike Green allowing Dominic Moore to pick up the loose puck. He beat Varlamov on the stick side for a 2-0 Canadiens lead.
Not For Long – Washington finally beat Halak on a rebound with 2:16 remaining. Brooks Laich dove for a rebound off Ovechkin’s shot to make it 2-1.
The Tieing Goal On His Stick – Jason Chimera with two minutes left found himself alone ten feet away from the goal mouth. Josh Gorges just got his stick on the shot to deflect it wide and up into the netting.
Panic Time – At least for Canadiens fans. O’Byrne called for highsticking Mike Knuble with 1:44 left. The Capitals played 6-on-4 the rest of the way.
Closing It Out – Killing a penalty the Canadiens were allowed to ice the puck which they did three times. Backstrom prevented an empty net goal by diving to direct Hal Gill’s clearing shot away at the last instant. Washington managed two harmless shots in the final 1:44. Final score Canadiens-2 Washington-1.
Summing It Up – When Jacques Martin took over the Canadiens last summer we all knew the kind of hockey he liked to coach. Defence and responsibility. Time and space. There were many times during the season, far too many, when his system came off the rails. And in the final week of the season it nearly cost them a playoff berth. But they made it. And now, with their trapping system, they are on their way to the second round of the playoffs. And the heroes of the series were the playoff-tested players then General Manager Bob Gainey signed and traded for last July, Gill, Gomez, Gionta, Cammalleri and Moen. As for the Capitals, there’ll be some soul-searching. They were a great regular season hockey club. But in the playoffs, helter-skelter doesn’t work. In the end Jacques Martin’s season-embedded system outplayed the talent-laden but uncoordinated Capitals. Now we get see the defending Stanley Cup champions. As Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said “Nobody said it was going to be easy”
——The Canadiens series win marked the first time since this playoff format was established in 1994 that a 8th seed came back from being down 3-1 to win a series. It’s the second time in their history the Habs have back from 3-1 down.
—— It was the 22nd time in NHL history a team came back from 3-1 to win.
——The Capitals lost three of four home games and held the lead at home for a total of 6:47 of the 240 minutes in the Verizon Centre. They lost only five games at home in regulation time during the regular season.
——In the last three games the combination of Hal Gill and Josh Gorges blocked 21 shots over the last three games of the series.
——Jaroslav Halak stopped 131 of 134 shots through the three game winning streak—a save percentage of .978.
—–Special Teams won the series. Canadiens penalty killers allowed one goal in 33 times short. The Canadiens power play scored in six of the seven games going 5 or 27.
—-The Canadiens flew straight from Washington to Pittsburgh where they will play the Penguins on Friday and Sunday before returning to the Bell Centre for games three and four.