The Montreal Canadiens continued their surprising assault on the 2010 NHL Playoffs, shocking the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 to advance to the conference finals in spite of having the worst record of any team in the post-season.
The Canadiens were able to take advantage of their power play opportunities, as Brian Gionta tabbed two goals on the night when Montreal had the one-man advantage. Mike Cammalleri scored a goal as well, as the Canadiens took down the Penguin 5-2 on the road.
Picked as the last team with a chance to win the 2010 Stanley Cup, Montreal is only a series away from clinching a spot in the finals. In the first round, they pushed top-seed Washington to the limit, and now in the second round the Canadiens ousted the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“We played Washington and we were supposed to get killed and we played these guys and we were supposed to get killed,” remarked Montreal defenseman Hal Gill in a post-game interview. “It’s nice to be part of a team that gets things done.”
Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak had 37 saves on the night in what was another solid performance for him in a Game 7, with elimination on the line. He was dominant in their previous Game 7 match up with Washington, and he came through yet again on Wednesday night.
Now, Montreal awaits to see who they will play in the conference finals. In the match up between Boston and Philadelphia, the Flyers defeated the Bruins in Game 6 to force a Game 7 as well.
“I don’t claim we’re this great team, I don’t claim we’re perfect and I don’t claim that everything we do is on purpose,” Cammalleri said after the game. “I think we’re just finding ways to win.”
Montreal can relate to Philadelphia, as Canadiens were forced to win both Game 6 and Game 7. Against the Penguins, the Canadiens created an insurmountable lead in Game 7, getting out to a 4-0 lead before Pittsburgh brought it to 4-2.
That is a close as the Penguins would get, as the Canadiens scored one more goal to extend their lead and put the game out of reach.
“Who would expect it? Nobody gave us a chance and here we are,” Halak said in a post-game interview.
On the other side of the ice, a far different tune echoed in the locker room.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said. “Game 7, anything can happen and, unfortunately, we weren’t at our best.”
“They beat Washington, now they beat us,” said Brooks Orpik. “I think it’s time to give this team some credit for what they’ve done, rather than picking apart why we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”
Oddsmakers have shifted Montreal’s odds as Online Sportsbooks have set the Canadiens at 5/1 to capture the 2010 Stanley Cup crown.