Canadiens and Penguins - Game Four Goals Broken Down

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After the Canadiens were shut out in Game Three of the series, they needed to return with an effort that would see them create more than a half dozen scoring chances. Marc-Andre Fleury had been perfect in the third game, and despite a few stellar saves, had his life made easier by Montreal's lack of presence in the Penguins zone.

It was quickly evident that Game Four would be different. Three goals in rapid succession by both clubs early in the first period produced a 2-1 Penguins lead that held early into the third frame. Two more quick goals by the Canadiens at that point altered the game for good.

The goals of Game Four were hardly classics, but most resulted from textbook plays that were properly executed. From there, the teams made their own breaks, plain and simply. A close game for 60 minutes, the Canadiens, it can be said, won the fourth contest by having a better third period than Pittsburgh.

Goal 1 Tom Pyatt (1), assists Travis Moen (1), Glen Metropolit (2)

On ice for Montreal: Metropolit (15), Gorges (26), Moen (32), Gill (75), Pyatt (94)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Leopold (4), Cooke (24), Letestu (38), Kennedy (48)

Goal description:

Two minutes and change into the game, the Penguins dump the puck deep into the Canadiens zone. Jaroslav Halak quickly retrieves as two Penguins skate deep, and passes off to Hal Gill, who feeds up to Glen Metropolit, who wastes no time passing to Tom Pyatt on a quick up ice transition. Pyatt feeds to Travis Moen at the Canadiens blue line, and he carries into Pittsburgh territory, slipping it back to Pyatt. Moen seems to be positioning himself for a screen when Pyatt flicks a squibbler with eyes that eludes Marc-Andre Fleury.

What Montreal did right:

The tic-tac-toe transition from Halak to Pyatt was impeccable. As the three forwards return into the Habs zone, everyone's feet are moving, enabling the right passes quickly, hitting players on the stride. Inside the Penguins zone, Pyatt chose what is never a bad option - throwing it at the Pittsburgh net. Fleury complied by being a total sieve on the play.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Coming off a shutout performance, this is a safe Fleury has to make. No bones about it, if he stops this puck, the Penguins may well have gone on to win

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Goal 2 Maxime Talbot (2), unassisted

On ice for Montreal: Gionta (21), Hamrlik (44), Pouliot (57), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Talbot (25), Fedotenko (26), Letang (58), Malkin (71)

Goal description:

Less than a minute after the Pyatt goal, the Canadiens are again inside Pittsburgh territory, seemingly in control of the puck. Pouliot is in the corner with the puck, and on a second attempt feeds it to a slightly compromised Gomez along the side board. Gomez forwards a pass that is tipped by Talbot and slowed in getting to Subban at the cross point. Due to the tip / deflection, Subban is forced to make a pinch play to the side, on his backhand, in order to keep the puck in Pittsburgh's zone. Fedotenko makes a spearing dive for the puck, but never touches it, taking Subban down with him in the process, somewhat illegally. Talbot has continued on the path of the puck, and freely gains it at the Habs blue line for a clear breakaway on Halak. One Talbot deke later and the score is 1-1.

What Pittsburgh did right:

Aggressive forechecking by Talbot on Gomez, leading to the neutered pass to Subban. Aggressive desperation dive by Fedotenko, that despite the uncalled infraction, was a gutsy play. Talbot for his part, never relented in his pursuit of the puck.

What Montreal did wrong:

Gomez, with Talbot closing quickly in, had several options, and chose the one of highest risk. He could have fed back to Pouliot in the corner; he could have eaten the pass, absorbed the check, and backhanded a safe feed to Hamrlik behind him; he could have stepped into the pass and fired on goal. All that is easy to suggest in hindsight, without players baring down. In a game - time realm, it's a whole other reality when confronted by a split second decision.

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Goal 3 Chris Kunitz (3), assists Sidney Crosby (12), Alex Goligoski (5)

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

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Kunitz (14), Gonchar (55), Malkin (71), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

Less than two minutes after the Talbot goal, the Penguins are on the power play. Gonchar has the puck at the point with the Canadiens PK setup firmly in place to counter. Gionta pursues Gonchar high, pushing him outside the blueline as he passes off to Goligoski at the side board. Goligoski feeds Crosby as he heads behind the goal line. Crosby passes to Kunitz in the slot, and as he fans on the shot, the pass has enough momentum that the puck careems, redirecting off Kunitz's skate, and pinballs past Halak heading in the opposite direction.

What Pittsburgh did right:

Passing plays brought the puck into the slot area, with luck, circumstances and bounces taking care of the rest.

What Montreal did wrong:

It is practically trivial as to how the play unwinds in terms of circumtance, but Subban commits to Goligoski too eagerly, enabling the Crosby pass option as an obvious choice. On the goal, Halak is faked out by a fanned shot, no fault of his own.

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Goal 4 Maxim Lapierre (2), assists Mathieu Drache (1), Marc-Andre Bergeron (4)

On ice for Montreal: O'Byrne (20), Lapierre (40), Moore (42), Bergeron (47), Darche (52)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Goligoski (3), Leopold (4), Staal (11), Cooke (24), Kennedy (48)

Goal description:

O'Byrne passes to Bergeron at the red line and he shoots a dump in behind the Pittsburgh goal. A hard charging Mathieu Darche gets there first, slightly ahead of two Penguins defenders. Leopold turns to fend off Dominic Moore while Goligoski loses the puck to Darche behind. Darches sees an opening and tries a wrap around from the right side that is blocked by Fleury. Lapierre recovers the rebound behind the net, and does a wide arc sweep from the right corner to the left, wrapping around to bank the puck off Fleury, who has misjudged the play by a second.

What Montreal did right:

A perfect soft dump in by Bergeron, that enabled not only Darche to arrive at the puck simultaneously with the Pittsburgh defensemen, but also Moore and Lapierre as enforcements. Darche wins the puck battle with seeming ease. Moore goes to crease upon the Darche chance, taking Leopold with him a second time. This creates the space at the left side of the goal. Lapierre sets himself up behind the net as a pass option, and with much allotted space due to Moore's presence at the opposite side, gets much more room than he bargained for.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Goligoski and Leopold were totally beaten and spun by the effort of Darche behind the net and lost track of the puck. Leopold was focused primarily on Moore, who never once had the puck. After the Darche chance, Fleury makes an outward right leg kick to nowhere, seemingly faked by something, and is off balance for a push off to the right side where he was beaten.

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Goal 5 Brian Gionta (5) assists Tom Pyatt (1), Roman Hamrlik (4)

On ice for Montreal: Gionta (21), Hamrlik (44), Subban (76), Gomez (91) Pyatt (94)

On ice for Pittsburgh: Eaton (7), Talbot (25), Fedotenko (26), Letang (58), Malkin (71)

Goal description:

Off a Pittsburgh rush, Hamrlik blocks a lame shot attempt by Talbot. On the rebound off him, Hamrlik takes down Talbot, leaving the puck to be scooped up by Pyatt. Pyatt takes it, crossing the neutral zone and hits Gionta on the fly at the Penguins blue line. Harmlik continues to the net and Gionta fires a pass to him that redirects off Letang's skate, past Fleury.

What Montreal did right:

Textbook shot block and transition by Hamrlik and Pyatt, with both players heading toward the Pittsburgh. Gionta, doing nothing fancy, placed a pass into the slot that took a lucky bounce.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

With no real shot on goal opportunity, Talbot flew it into Hamrlik's shins instead of safely playing it into the corner. Goligoski seemed late in arriving at the Canadiens blue line to assist as an option for Talbot. On the Gionta / Pyatt rush, the Penguins did little wrong

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Final Analysis:

As in Game Two, good fortune played a part and in all, five goals were scored with very peculiar circumstances.

A seeing eye puck on a 1 in a 100 chance, beats Fleury.

A horribly blown non call by officials leads to a breakaway goal.

A puck is kicked, and deflects seven different ways from heaven to find its way behind a goaltender.

A wraparound sweep from behind the net is banked off the goaltender for a score.

A winning goal careems off a defender's skate past his own goalie.

There are plays and breakdowns leading up to each of these five goals that can be constituted, in the aftermath, as mistakes. Hindsight is faultless in that way, especially in trying to quantify luck.

The two Pittsburgh goal, Montreal can barely be faulted on, apart from Halak not making a save when left alone and not tracking the puck properly as it pinballed past him on the second. These are subtle game moment errors that are not entirely correctable as they happened.

For Montreal's goal one and three, the element of luck manifested upon simply making the textbook plays in approaching the goal.

The Lapierre goal, the hardest earned of the game, was the difference maker.

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

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