Carey Price

Operation shutdown: Carey Price shuts out Boston, Habs win 2-0 to take Game 1

After all the bluster and the big talk and the reflecting back on the fights and scary hits from the regular season, the playoffs between Boston and Montreal kicked off in a way that Caps and Pens fans might recognize all too well.

Carey Price stopped 31 shots in earning his third career playoff shutout while Brian Gionta scored two goals, each assisted by Scott Gomez, in leading the Habs to victory in Game 1 over Boston 2-0.

Montreal’s plan of attack looked oddly familiar to how they were able to shutdown the Capitals and Penguins in last season’s playoffs. The Habs grabbed the lead early on in the game in the first period and helped themselves out by playing staunch defense and frustrating the Bruins’ attempts at offense at every turn. When the Bruins were able to get chances, Price was there to turn them away.

For Boston, it’s just one game in the series but they should be a bit concerned with how their offense was silenced and mostly thanks to perpetual thorn in the side P.K. Subban. Subban led the Canadiens in time on ice playing just over 27 minutes and found himself getting the call in all clutch situations on defense for the Habs while paired up with Hal Gill.  Speed and skill paired up with a veteran defenseman known for holding up the opponents top forwards from finding room. It’s a video game like pairing but for Montreal it worked well tonight.

Boston will have to figure out a way to get the offense going obviously but for them, stepping up their physical play is a must and they have to make the Canadiens feel uncomfortable on the ice. That’s not advocating dirty play, just being more aggressive and attacking stronger to make space would be huge for them.

On the other hand, Montreal doesn’t need to deviate much from what they did tonight. While they can’t quite expect for Price to be lights out in every game, the confidence and stellar play he had tonight helped put the memories of Price’s 0-8 playoff record in his last eight games and goals against average north of 4.00 out of everyone’s minds.

The Bruins should have some concern though because Montreal will keep doing this if they’re allowed. Getting the first goal in Game 2 should be the Bruins’ primary objective lest they get defended to death the rest of the way.

Here’s video of Brian Gionta’s game sealing second goal.

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Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.