It was all about quality over quantity tonight in Pittsburgh, as
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins made quick work of the Montreal
Canadiens en route to a big 6-3 win. After Jaroslav Halak put together a magical three game run to
take out the first-place Capitals, he looked entirely human and a bit
out of sorts tonight as the Penguins took a 1-0 series lead.
What the Washington Capitals could never do
against the Habs, the Penguins were able to do in dominating fashion;
after killing 32 of 33 penalties against the Capitals the Habs gave up
four power play goals to the Penguins, including three straight with
the man advantage after the Canadiens were able to take an early 1-0
Sidney Crosby, while not putting up tremendous numbers, had
another lunchpail game as he made big hits, played great defensively
and did all the little things needed to keep the puck alive on several
occasions. It was his brilliant cross-crease pass that put the dagger
into the hearts of the Canadiens tonight, as he fed Alex Goligoski for
an easy tap-in goal that gave the Penguins a 5-3 win.
though, even with Crosby’s inspired play, the story will once again be
centered around Jaroslav Halak. Two days ago it was based on Halak’s
tremendous play against the Capitals and tonight it will once again be
about his inconsistency. Halak allowed five goals on 20 shots and did
nothing that resembled the confident and motivated goaltender that ended
the Capitals’ season. While Washington used a blitzkrieg approach to
their offense, peppering the net with shot after shot, the Penguins took
a more patient approach. Pittsburgh would use just the slightest of
hesitations in their puck movement to throw off the defense and penalty
killing of the Canadiens.
He appeared to be fatigued and just not mentally into the game,
and was barely able to make much of an effort on the fifth goal by the
Penguins. He was eventually pulled, although I’m guessing the move was
more about giving him some rest than it was about benching him in favor
of Carey Price.
While some surprises are always expected, I’m
guessing we’ll see Halak back in net once again for Game 2.