Penguins and Canadiens - Game Two Goals Broken Down

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The Canadiens had much to correct after a Game One letdown. Their margin of error was even more reduced with the loss of Andrei Markov. It was very evident before the game that they would need to return to their restrictive tendencies if they were to have a chance to beat the Penguins, who used the power play to destroy them in the first contest.

The Canadiens showed greater discipline in Game Two, not just in taking less penalties but also in being more routed to their system while minimizing mistakes. Such an outlook was essential, as Markov's twenty-six minutes of play were to shared amongst others, by Marc-Andre Bergeron and Roman Hamrlik, both of whom have had their harried moments in these playoffs.

Evening the score before the end of the first period would greatly help the Canadiens stay with their game plan. Gaining the lead by the second frame enabled Montreal to commit even tighter to it. They remained disciplined until near the end of the second, when Hal Gill took a very neccessary call on a Penguins scoring chance close in.

The Canadiens penalty kiling prowess then returned for Game Two, as they shut down three successive Pittsburgh opportunities, taking the third period to the midway point.

Jacques Martin took few chances in this game with players not on board, his fourth line of Darche, Maxwell and Kostitsyn never returned as a unit after blowing things on the Matt Cooke goal.

In Montreal for Game Three, Martin will have the luxury of the last line change, which should allow a vaster distrubition of player minutes that will help with the overtaxing of Montreal's most dedicated warrirors.

My friends, I believe we have ourselves a hockey series!

Goal 1 Cooke (4), assists Talbot (4) and Dupuis (5)

On ice for Montreal: O'Byrne (20), Kostitsyn (46), Beregron (47), Darche (52), Maxwell (61)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Leopold (4), Dupuis (9), Cooke (24), Talbot (25)

Goal description:

Off a faceoff just outside the Montreal blue line, Maxwell loses the draw to Dupuis. Maxwell and Darche quickly get caught behind Talbot and Dupuis. Dupuis the picks up the puck just outside the Canadiens line, passes it between Darche's skates to himself and feads Talbot, who has broken away from Maxwell. With Bergeron caught high along the boards, Talbot bursts towards the middle and spies Cooke, who has broken away from an idle Kostitsyn and past a flatfooted O'Byrne. Talbot feeds Cooke on the fly, and he easily slips behind O'Byrne and dekes Halak, shuffling the puck between his pads.

What Pittsburgh did right:

The Penguins speedy third line caught the Habs' fourth with cement in their shoes all around. They were buzzing right off the faceoff, and Dupuis won a brief battle near the boards. Talbot and Cooke were flying towards the net upon possession of the puck.

What Montreal did wrong:

Maxwell and Darche were totally schooled off the faceoff, the moment the puck was lost, Bergeron's committing too far left compromised O'Byrne greatly. Kostitsyn seemed to wake up and realize Cooke was his man after he'd blazed by him. Not to fault Halak on a one on one situation, but the goalie poke check is truly a lost art.

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Goal 2 Brian Gionta (4), assists Gomez (6) and Pouliot (2)

On ice for Montreal: Gionta (21), Gorges (26), Pouliot (57), Gill (75), Gomez (91)

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

Goal description:

Gionta passes the puck to Pouliot at the Canadiens blueline and he skates a straight line, unobtrusively to the Penguins face off dot. Gonchar who has backed in all the way, partially blocks Pouliot's feed into the corner. The puck dribbles to the back board, and as Poulit attempt to roung Gonchar, the puck is picked up behind the net by Gomez. Gomez arrives on the puck and simultaneously backhands a feed to Gionta parked on the doorstep. His one-timer beats Fleury low to the blocker side.

What Montreal did right:

Pouliot gathered speed upon reception of the pass and took the straight route offered into Penguins territory. Not getting fancy, he fired into the corner, hitting Gonchar's stick. Gomez alertly snuck past Crosby and Orpik undetected and read Gionta's placement almost instinctively. Gionta did what he does best, going to the net, when left unobstructed.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Gonchar allowed Pouliot to go right where he wanted. Crosby coasted toward Gomez and the puck, which was gone by his arrival. In skating behind, Crosby left Gionta open, and he was not picked up by Orpik in the slot.

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Goal 3 Cammalleri (7), assists Subban (2) and Gomez (7)

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

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Cooke (24), Talbot (25), Letang (58)

Goal description:

The Canadiens are on the power play, and Gomez wins the draw to Gionta at the side boards. Gionta battles Letang stick on stick, wins, and dishes to Cammalleri, who finds himself behind the goal line. Cammalleri curls toward the corner with the puck, countered somewhat by Eaton, and passes off the round board to Gomez. Gomez places himself with a short hesitation, drawing Letang into him. Seeing the Penguins defensive box expand, he passes swiftly cross ice to Subban, who one-times a laser toward the goal. The puck Gionta's leg and bounces up, where Cammalleri taps it out of mid air, a few feet off the ice past Fleury.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Eaton immediately leaves his post upon the puck drop to head towards Gionta, leaving Cammalleri open. Letang loses the battle with Gionta, giving both he and Cammalleri a bead on the net. Cammalleri cannot be countered as he curls away, but then Letang returns to fend off Gomez, by which time the puck is passed to the point. Eaton has Gionta covered on the Subban shot, but Cammalleri has plenty of time due to Letang's straying to swat the puck past Fluery.

What Montreal did right:

The quick cycling by Montreal forwards after winning the initial battle got the Pens D in a tizzy. Gionta fought off Letang, Cammalleri was whirling and spotted Gomez in timely fashion. Gomez spied Subban wide open. Going both toward the net, Gionta and Cammalleri caught Pittsburgh in an odd manned situation.

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With two Penguins at their backs, the pass from Gionta to Cammalleri behind the line allows the play to be turned the opposite way, to Gomez, unhindered.

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Notice the positing of the Penguins four man box, and the open lane from Gomez to Subban

Goal 4 Cammalleri (8), assist Plekanec (4)

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Plekanec (14), Gorges (26), Moen (32), Gill (75)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Leopold (4), Ponikarovsky (23), Letang (58), Malkin (71), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

There's a little over three minutes to go in the one goal game, and Pittsburgh are pressing and taking risks. Crosby has the puck at center, and feeds to Malkin just after he crosses his path. Plekanec is between them, a he taps down the foot high flip, and spots Cammalleri tearing a trail the other way. Plekanec feeds him just as he blows by Gonchar and leopold. Cammalleri goes in alone, beating Fleury high to the glove side. Good defensive positioning, good luck and opportunism at its best.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Down a goal late in the game, the Penguins had little choice but to press. Eight times out of ten, the Crosby pass is not swatted down, and in this instance, Gonchar and Leopold were guilty of committing to the five man rush a little too eagerly. Them's the breaks!

What Montreal did right:

Good fortune, was no doubt, invloved in this play, as the Canadiens in part were on a line change as the turnover was created. Plekanec was perfectly positioned between Crosby and Malkin to knock down the pass, and with Crosby about to skate past him him, had a convenient open lane to an opportunistic Cammalleri.

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Final Analysis:

Full merit to the Canadiens for jumping on the chances fate gave them. Gomez twice made use of his space and fraction of time to set up a pair of goals. A bounce assisted the Habs' second, and an improbable turnover greatly helped the third.

The tired but true motto in hockey is that players and teams create their own breaks and this game in a textbook example. The bounces did not go the Penguins way, although they did plenty enough to merit a bunch, It can happen this way in every game, but in this one it's almost an understand in saying the Canadiens were the more opportunistic team of the two.

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