After struggling mightily in Game 1, Jaroslav Halak is back to his world-beating self. In helping the Canadiens to a 2-2 series tie, the Slovakian goalie made 94 out of 98 saves in the last three games. While the Penguins are claiming that their approach won’t change, it’s difficult to imagine that the goalie’s strong play hasn’t gotten to them at this point.
Here’s more from The Globe and Mail’s Dave Shoalts.
However, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma spent a lot of time Friday talking about his team’s need to beat Halak – who has stopped 94 of 98 shots in the last three games – by creating “second-chance opportunities” (scoring chances that come by hanging around the net and whacking at rebounds and loose pucks).
Aside from the troubling total of one goal from the Penguins’ dynamic duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the last five games, the big problem has been letting the Canadiens defence keep them to the outside. Bylsma admitted the absence of veteran winger Bill Guerin to a suspected case of back spasms in the last two games hurt his team’s “net-front presence” and allowed the Canadiens to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2.
It isn’t all bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins, though. TSN’s Brent Wallace reports that Bill Guerin should be in the lineup while Alex Ponikarovsky is expected to sit out tonight. Guerin won’t solve all the team’s problems. He won’t keep Marc-Andre Fleury from allowing the occasional soft goal. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still need to cash in on their opportunities. Still, Guerin has the right combination of size and hands to get right in Halak’s face and create havoc.
If nothing else, getting back to Mellon Arena could really help Pittsburgh break a slump or two. A Game 5 can often be pivotal in a seven-game series. We’ll see if Guerin can be a difference maker in tonight’s match.