Canadiens and Penguins - Game Seven Goals Broken Down

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Game Six had been the Canadiens strongest game until that point, as their play offensively had started to push the Penguins into costly mistakes. With Game Seven, that trend continued, and manifested itself in to a tired Pittsburgh squad coughing up an unheard of 14 turnovers.

As you have seen, the game was decided rather early, as multiple Pittsburgh breakdowns gave Montreal ample opportunity for scoring chances. The Canadiens in Game Seven, took advantage of everything Pittsburgh gave them, in addition to creating several of their scoring chances themselves with heads up play in Pens territory. Such a development is proof that as the series wore on, Montreal were assuredly gaining confidence against the reigning Cup champs.

Goal 1 Brian Gionta (6), assists P.K. Subban (3), Scott Gomez (9) PP

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Staal (11), Cooke (24), Orpik (44), Gonchar (55)

Goal description:

The Canadiens are on the powerplay 30 seconds into the game. Gomez has the puck off to the right behind the Pittsburgh goal line. He attempts to pass to Gionta in the slot, but the puck redirects, passing by Cooke and Gonchar, and dribbling over to Subban, who has moved high into the faceoff circle. Subban corrals the puck and moves back to the point, eluding Staal. When Staal backs off, Subban continues up the left board, back into the faceoff circle, and lifts a backhander on goal, that is deflected by Gionta past Fleury.

What Montreal did right:

A fortunate pinch by Subban results in the retainment of the puck. From there he smartly hangs onto it, looking for a play option. When none develop, he simply settles for putting the puck on net. From there, Gionta got a tape shaving on it, and that was enough to get it by Fleury.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Not a whole lot. The Penguins forward, Staal, pursued Subban into an area where all he had was a bad angled shot. It looks as though Fleury could have blocked better, but there is no art or form to successfully playing deflections. A goalie makes himself wide, and prays.

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Goal 2 Dominic Moore (3), assist Hamrlik (6)

On ice for Montreal: Lapierre (40), Moore (42), Hamrlik (44), Subban (76), Pyatt (94)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Dupuis (9), Kunitz (14), Orpik (44), Gonchar (55), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

Moore keeps the puck in on the rights boards and dumps into the corner, where it hops over Gonchar's stick to Lapierre behind the goal. Orpik knocks Lapierre off the puck and proceeds to rough him up against the back of the net for a full five seconds. The puck trickles into the opposite corner where it is picked up by Crosby, who is immediately bodied by Moore as he passes up to Dupuis. Crosby, Gonchar and Dupuis are all turning up ice on the rush, just as Orpik leaves Lapierre, finally, behind the net. The pass from Crosby to Dupuis however, has been blocked by Pyatt, and it redirects and bounces past the streaking Gonchar. Moore has come out of the corner quickly, and pounces on the loose puck, spinning and firing past Fleury low to the stick side.

What Montreal did right:

Dominic Moore had one hell of a shift, scoring this key goal. First he keeps the puck in along the boards, and then moves in cross corner to hit Crosby as he's about to clear. He moves off that hit at warp speed, getting to the high slot in time to react to the turnover created by Pyatt.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

On this goal, you name it, they messed it up. Two bad clearing attempts, including one by Crosby in which he made a bad pass rather than skate up with a better outlet feed. Orpik losing all focus with Lapierre behind the goal, taking himself out of position in the process. Gonchar playing way too high, alongside forwards too anxious to leave their zone. A total breakdown.

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Goal 3 Mike Cammalleri (12), assists Tomas Plekanec (7), Jaroslav Spacek (3)

On ice for Montreal: Spacek (6), Cammalleri (13), Plekanec (14), Kostitsyn (46), Bergeron (47)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Dupuis (9) Kunitz (14), Letang (58), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

The Penguins' Kunitz is poised to carry the puck out or make an outlet pass from his zone, but hesitates when first encountering Andrei Kostitsyn. The Canadiens forward bypasses with a swipe, but Kunitz remains slow to react, slow enough in fact that Kostitsyn gets a second chance and deflects a pass destined to Letang outside the blueline. The puck redirects to the opposite side board, where Kostitsyn wins a race for it with Letang, tapping it back to Spacek who has moved in from the right point. Spacek quickly feeds to Plekanec at the left circle, and he one-times a feed to Cammalleri in the slot. Cammalleri's wrister beats Fleury low to the glove side.

What Montreal did right:

Kostitsyn's dogged forechecking blocked three of Kunitz's pass lanes. His relentless pursuit of the puck resulted in Montreal possession and allowed for three Canadiens to set up a tic-tac-toe play inside Pittsburgh territory. The Canadiens three passes were especially efficient time wise. Holy smokes did they ever pounce on this one!

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

There was a very simple out option for Kunitz that he did not choose. By failing to go up the boards, he allowed Kostitsyn to come in quick, as his pass options disappeared. As a potential pass recipient, Letang was in full risk mode outside the blue line with only a forward back to one side, and he was burned badly on the play. The Penguins coming back were striding instead of skating hard, and it cost them with Cammalleri on the ice.

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Goal 4 Travis Moen (2), unassisted SH

On ice for Montreal: Moen (32), Moore (42), Hamrlik (44), Subban (76)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Guerin (13), Kunitz (14), Gonchar (55), Letang (58), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

The Penguins are on a powerplay, the most relaxed you will ever see a team down 0-3 in a deciding seventh game. Kunitz retreives the puck along the half board and his pass to Gonchar is telegraphed and slow, and Moen intercepts. Moen skates the puck through the neutral zone, throwing it off the boards as he hits the blueline, breezing by a frozen Gonchar. Untouched, Moen steps around and slaps a 30 footer from a bad angle that beats Fleury.

What Montreal did right:

It's all Moen, profitting from everything handed to him, making a pair of very sensible plays - a soft dump, a safe SOG.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Compound errors once again by Pittsburgh, starting with their umpteenth turnover, zombie-like disinterest from Gonchar, and another shot Fleury should have had.

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Goal 5 Chris Kunitz (4), assists Kris Letang (2), Pascal Dupuis (6)

On ice for Montreal: Plekanec (14), Gorges (26), Moen (32), Kostitsyn (46), Gill (75)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Dupuis (9), Kunitz (14), Letang (58), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

The Penguins are set up in the Canadiens zone, and Dupuis and Goligoski work the puck back and forth from the right circle to the blueline. Dupuis feeds a short pass to Letang, as Gill opts to pick up his stick rather than play position on Letang, who moves in and fires at Halak from a 40 degree angle. Halak saves but the rebound redirects off an officials skate right to Kunitz left of the slot and his one-timer catches the Canadiens goalie by surprise.

What Pittsburgh did right:

Moved the puck safely away from Montreal to put a shot on goal before a lucky bounce went their way.

What Montreal did wrong:

Halak was caught off guard, but perhaps the goal does not evolve as it did if Gill leaves his stick on the ice.

 

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Goal 6 Jordan Staal (3), assists Alex Ponikarovsky (4), Alex Goligoski (7)

On ice for Montreal: Spacek (6), Gionta (21), Hamrlik (44), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Leopold (4), Staal (11), Kunitz (14), Ponikarovsky (23)

Goal description:

Pittsburgh are set up in the Canadiens end after a Gomez clear finds no takers. Harmlik is without a stick as Ponikarovsky takes the puck at the side board, skates back to the point and passes to Goligoski at his side. The pair move to the opposite side and circle, keeping the stickless Hamrlik as their closest defender. Ponikarovsky is stationed in the middle, fifty feet out from Halak, where the Pens have scored the majority of their goals in this series. Goligoski feeds back to Ponikarovsky for a one-timer that is deflected by Staal in front of the net.

What Pittsburgh did right:

They worked the puck to an area of previous success where Hamrlik was vulnerable and set up succesfully in front of Halak.

What Montreal did wrong:

Playing five a side, Hamrlik should not have assumed such stoic positioning. Without his stick, he did little to hamper the Penguins setup.

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Goal 7 Brian Gionta (7), assists Mike Cammalleri (6), Scott Gomez (10) PP

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Staal (11), Cooke (24), Orpik (44)

Goal description:

The Canadiens are on the power play midway through the third period. Gomez is at the right side boards, taking a look at options. When Cooke comes in and commits to faked feed to Bergeron at the point, Gomez passes to Cammalleri in the corner and heads for the slot. Cooke follows Gomez, giving up the point coverage. Gomez and Cammalleri switch positions and Cammalleri then feeds to Bergeron at the blueline, with Cooke not yet recovered. Bergeron bobbles the puck slightly, feeding back to Cammalleri, all the while drawing Cooke out of position once more. In quick succession, Cammalleri feeds to Gomez at Fleury's side, and he lifts a short pass over to Gionta who bats it in one foot off the ice.

What Montreal did right:

The Canadiens kept good puck movement going through some fakes and switching of position until a lane from the point to the net became available. They worked quick passes to get the puck to the crease area and on goal.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Cooke was doing some high risk penalty killing, overplaying three consecutive Canadiens plays. Once he had put himself out of position a second time, Montreal jumped into his void.

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Final Analysis

The Penguins overall effort in this Game Seven suggests a tired team. The goals they acquired after trailing 4-0 were handed to them by a bounce and a pair of dropped sticks. They may again have outshot Montreal badly, but on the whole they did not create enough scoring chances on their own to be in the game.

Montreal, on the other hand, pounced on every Pittsburgh mistake with a rarely seen killer instinct. When not causing the turnovers themselves, they were positioned to take advantage of the many mistakes made by the Penguins in this game.

The final contest was in some ways typical of the series as it progressed, With each Montreal win, the club gained in confidence and it showed. As the series moved closer to the final game, the Canadiens not only began to frustrate the Penguins in several ways, but they became knowledgeable in how to take full advantage of their risks. The longer the series went, the more tired the Penguins became, and the fourteen turnovers in Game Seven attest to that fact.

During the seven games, Fleury played a pair of very strong ones, but not enough so to get inside the Canadiens heads and force them to try things differently, as opposed to how Halak's play became a Penguins focal point. With several Fleury gifts during the round, Montreal were never concerned with strategy against him. They simply took aim from wherever the opportunity presented itself. Pittsburgh for their part, found success in beating Halak from far, a trend that Montreal endeavored to eliminate as often as need be.

In the final analysis, several factors tilted the series Montreal's way, and the difference in the quality of goaltending at both ends stands out as the most glaring of factors.

Goal breakdowns for Games 1, 2 ,3, 4, 5 & 6 can be found here.

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