Close, But No Cigars

Caps must wait at least one more game to celebrate series win

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    WASHINGTON DC, DC - APRIL 23: Brendan Morrison #9 of the Washington Capitals is stopped by Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on April 23, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

    The Canadiens showed the Capitals Friday night that they're not ready to end their season just yet.

    The Habs used another impressive performance by Jaroslav Halak to win Game 5 2-1 and send the series back to Montreal Monday night.

    Halak made 37 saves, including several of the highlight reel variety, in his first start since being pulled in the second period of Game 3.

    The Habs went into the third period with a 2-1 lead, and Halak made it stand up.

    Halak made two incredible saves about seven minutes into the third. First he stopped a point-blank slap shot from Alex Semin. He then turned away Tomas Fleischmann on another excellent opportunity out of the right corner on the Caps' next rush down the ice.

    On the first, Semin set up shop in the high slot, stick cocked and ready to fire. He received a pass in his wheelhouse and cranked a heavy shot that Halak somehow stopped with his right arm to keep Semin without a goal in the series.

    Fleischmann found himself one-on-one against Halak just seconds later, but his wrister couldn't find a way past Halak, who came out and cut down the angle to perfection.

    Halak went on to stone Ovechkin twice on the same shift at about the 10-minute mark of the third. The first came on a set play off the draw, which was won cleanly by Nicklas Backstrom. The next one came after Ovechkin picked up the puck in the neutral zone and busted down the left wing against a defenseman. He cut to the inside against Ryan O'Byrne and released a wicked wrister that Halak sent into the corner with ease.

    The Caps had one final chance just as time ran off the clock, but an Ovechkin pass into the crease couldn't find the stick of Tom Poti, who had snuck in from the point.

    The Canadiens were able to sit back and rely on their hot goalie after taking a quick two-goal lead before the halfway point of the first period.

    Mike Cammalleri muted the Phone Booth crowd just 90 seconds into the game by firing a wrister past Semyon Varlamov's blocker. Travis Moen made it 2-0 about five minutes later by taking a nice feed from Brian Gionta from behind the Caps net and depositing a nifty backhander past Varlamov, again to the blocker side.

    Ovechkin cut the deficit in half by going back to basics and digging for a loose puck in front of Halak about four minutes into the second period.

    Ovechkin picked up the puck in the corner to the right of Halak and found John Carlson at the opposite point. Carlson let a hard shot go on net that Halak couldn't grab cleanly. With Mike Knuble causing a commotion in the crease, Ovie stuck his nose in, sniffed out the loose puck and pushed it into the net.

    That goal gave the Caps a spark, something they lacked in the first period. It was similar to the sluggish performance the Caps had in Game 1, which ended with a 3-2 OT win for Montreal.

    But that spark was snuffed out by Halak, who did everything necessary to keep Ovechkin and Co. off the board the rest of the way.

    "We had chances, we just didn't score a goal," Ovechkin said.

    Even though the Caps have scored 20 goals in the first five games of the series, there is some concern with the lack of goal scoring by Semin. His nine shots on goal were a game-high Friday night, but he has yet to find the back of the net in the series. That's 29 shots without a goal for Semin, who scored 40 during the regular season.

    It's time for him to settle down and tickle some twine instead of hitting the netminder with all of his shots.

    Grab some Tim Hortons, because the series goes back to Montreal Monday night for Game 6.