Holy Halak!

Some call it highway robbery, others call it grand theft larceny. Whatever you call it, Jaroslav Halak played it. Giving an out of this world performance last night, the Habs stayed alive another day, forcing game seven in Washington D.C. and putting all the pressure back on the Capitals.

The Canadiens won the first game but lost the next three. Back in Washington D.C. the Capitals were unable to pull the trigger and the Habs outplayed them forcing a game six on home ice. Halak started the series and helped his team win in an overtime thriller. The next game was also sent to overtime, this time with the Capitals coming out victorious. Alex Ovechkin stated that he saw Halak’s arm shaking while taking a swig of water, and that they knew he was nervous. The third game was in Montreal, and while Halak started, he was pulled and the Habs would lose. Carey Price started and lost game four. After his two unsportsmanlike penalties, the Canadiens turned back to Halak. In enemy territory, Halak played solid helping his team force a game six. Then they were back on home ice, with the world wondering if they could do it again.

The tone was set with their early aggressive play and penalty kills. The first period the Canadiens outplayed the Capitals, but in the second period after sitting on a two goal lead by Michael Cammelleri, the Capitals started to apply the pressure. Watching Halak, you’d never know it. First it was highway robbery when Joe Corvo‘s one timer was whizzing past his ear and he flashed his glove behind himself and caught it. He heard the puck go by and just snatched it out of air. The atmosphere in the arena was tangible, even hundreds of miles away via television. The crowd of 21,000+ were screaming, chanting even singing ‘Ole’ after each goal between booing Ovechkin. But it didn’t stop there. Halak stopped the puck with his pads only to have it flip up into the air he stood up and caught it effortlessly just before Eric Fehr ran him over. Unphased, he later stopped Ovechkin on a breakaway attempt that left Ovi on his butt staring out in disbelief. Ovechkin said all the pressure was on Halak in game three, trying to get inside his head, clearly the opposite had come true.

Halak and his team of defenders showed the Capitals they should be nervous. Unable to capitalize on six different power play chances, including one five on three opportunity, the Caps looked sloppy, shaken, and confused. The big names passed the puck instead of shooting, and Boudreau stuck Alexamder Semin, Alex Ovechkin, and Nicklas Backstrom on a line together, multiple times in the game. Something he himself admitted that he doesn’t use unless ‘desperate times’ call for it. Alexander Semin now has not scored in the last thirteen playoff games he has played in.

Game seven is in Washington D.C. Will the Caps fall to the same fate as the Sharks last year? Does winning the President’s Trophy mean an early exit? The Caps have the talent to finish off the Canadiens, but the mental warfare they tried to launch earlier is now coming back tenfold in actions instead of words.

Michael Cammalleri with two goals, Maxime Lapierre with a goal (and two diving penalties), Eric Fehr with a goal, and Tomas Plekanec with an empty netter. Halak stopped 53 shots, Semyon Varlamov stopped 18.

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