The Stat Line of the Night – 5/3/10 – Jaroslav Halak
During the opening round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was the performance of goalie Jaroslav Halak which was largely responsible for the Montreal Canadiens improbable upset victory over the top-seeded Washington Capitals. After taking a beating at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game one of their second round series, it became apparent that the Habs would need another brilliant performance from their Slovakian netminder if they were going to advance further in these playoffs. That was exactly what they would get from their saviour between the pipes Sunday afternoon at Mellon Arena.
Looking to avoid going down 2-0 with the series headed back to Montreal for Game three Tuesday night, Halak made 38 saves on 39 shots, shutting down Crosby, Malkin and company on route to a crucial 3-1 win. The Canadiens defense was a key component to the outcome of the game, forcing the Pens to take many of their shots from the outside, but when they did get their chances from in tight, Halak was there to close the door.
Now the Montreal faithful will be able to breathe a lot easier as they are not required to win the next two games at home just to keep pace in the series. They will, however, need to be on top of their game once again if they wish to knock off the defending Cup champions in yet another unexpected series upset. In their opening round match-up, Pittsburgh was able to take a stranglehold on their series against the Sens by winning games three and four in Ottawa after splitting the first two at home. You can be sure that the Habs will do everything in their power to avoid having history repeat itself, and once again, Halak will be an integral part of that plan.