Canadiens and Penguins - Game Five Goals Broken Down


Following a Game Four performance where only one of three Canadiens goals could be categorized as hard-earned, Montreal faced a tougher task in Pittsburgh, where they have had even more difficulty scoring.

Pittsburgh for their part, seemed to tap into a way to score against Jaroslav Halak, without sunjecting him to an onslought of vulcanized rubber.

Game Five was a low scoring affair, and it shows that Penguins and Canadiens continued on their respective trends.The Penguins twice beat Halak from long range with traffic at his feet, and the Canadiens for their part upped their shots total but barely affected Fleury's ability to handle them.

Goal 1 Letang (4), assists Malkin (6), Gonchar (8)

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

On ice for Pittsburgh: Guerin (13), Gonchar (55), Letang (58), Malkin (71), Crosby (87)

Goal description:

The Penguins are on the powerplay, and Malkin and Crosby are at the side boards with Moore and Hamrlik coming over to challenge for a loose puck. Malkin easily gains the puck and backhands to Gonchar at the point. As Moen chases, the puck is passed from Gonchar to Letang, while Moore positions and Hamrlik coasts to the crease, giving double coverage with Subban on Crosbly while leaving Guerin and Malkin behind him. Letang, positioned directly fifty feet in front of Halak, fires a wrist shot on goal. The rebound comes out from behind the net to the right side, where Malkin easily beats Hamrlik to it, and curls safely back behind the net. With six players in Halak's vicinity, Moen flattens Crosby as Malkin skates an arc into the high slot. Pursued by Subban, who sweeps and misses the puck, Malkin is untouched in passing off to Letang. With Hamrlik tangling with Guerin, Moen comes out to block Letang's drive, which beats a screened Halak.

What Pittsburgh did right:

Malkin is the key cog in the wheel here, never shooting the puck, but helping to generate two scoring chances from the Penguins prefered area. With Letang and Gonchar forming a firing range, Guerin and Crosby disturb in front of Halak, and their play draws in Moen, Moore and Hamrlik at different times, leaving Malkin free to cycle.

What Montreal did wrong:

Throughout the whole sequence, there is no Montreal presence at the point, where both Pittsburgh scoring chances emanated from. Malkin was generally uncountered by broken down zone coverage caused by a perfectly executed Penguins ploy. Malkin needed to be hounded by one player in pursuit, which was not possible with so much net presence at the attention paid to it. At the beginning of the play, anytime one player (in this instance Moen) is chasing the puck at the point, trouble looms.

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Goal 2 Gonchar (2), assists Orpik (2), Letestu (1)

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

On ice for Pittsburgh: Rupp (17), Letestu (38), Orpik (44), Gonchar (55), Malkin (71),

Goal description:

The teams are playing 5 on 5, Malkin has the puck and is skating it towards the Penguins' blue line with Moen and Cammalleri in pursuit. Just as it appears he is going to dish off to Gonchar, Malkin makes a wide sweep around Cammalleri, who communicates to Gill to pursue. Gill cuts Malkin's lane, so the Pittsburgh sniper riffles a wrister at the net that Halak stops. From a scrum of four in front of the net, Plekanec remains at the crease and Gill is left to pursue Letestu, who has easily gained the puck. Gill follows him behind the net to the opposite site, and Letestu slips a pass to Rupp, who has moved slightly behind the goal line to assist him. Four Canadiens players are now in the vicinity of the goal, with only Cammalleri to work the point. Gill bodies Rupp, as he feeds off to an open Letestu. Moen is too close to the goal to affect a pass from Letestu to Orpik at the blueline. Orpik easily accepts Letestu's pass, and immediately feeds a sweep over to Gonchar for a one-timer that beats a screened Halak.

What Pittsburgh did right:

The Penguins kept the puck away from Montreal, possessing it in every sense of the word. First Malkin skates it to safe place and shots. Letestu then pounces first on the rebound. Next, he does a short little give and go with Rupp when forced, and finally passing to the open Gonchar at the blue line.

What Montreal did wrong:

Cammalleri give up the pursuit of Malkin, offering him the first shot. Plekanec is stuck playing the defenseman's role the whole time while Gill chases around. Moen and Cammalleri never hinder the point options or block the shot. Simply perceived, the Canadiens removed the low options at the expense of the high and were burned. Moen and Plekanec would have been better served exchanging places.

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Goal 3 Cammalleri (9), Gionta (4), Plekanec (5)

On ice for Montreal: Cammalleri (13), Plekanec (14), Gionta (21), Bergeron (47), Subban (76), Gomez (91)

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

Goal description:

There is less than a minute left in the game, and with Halak pulled Montreal are playing 6 on 4. The puck is shot behind the Penguins goal where Gonchar retrieves and fires in the direction it came. Gomez intercepts, looks around at his options, and passes to Plekanec behind the net. Quickly, Plekanec feeds to Gionta who one-times a shot at Fleury, Cammalleri takes a backhand jab at the rebound. As Orpik moves in to push Cammalleri, he accidently nudges the puck through Fleury's pads into the net.

What Montreal did right:

Gomez kept the puck in on the clear and chose the surest and safest pass option to Plekanec. The passes from Gomez to Plekanec to Gionta were tic-tac-toe. Gionta and Cammalleri were double team in the slot.

What Pittsburgh did wrong:

Gonchar was not poised and never even bothered to check for safer pass outlets. All four Penguins players were concentrated into a small box around the goal, yet never inhibited Plekanec's pass, Gionta's shot, or Cammalleri ability to get at the rebound.


Final Analysis

The Montreal forwards seemed to tire as this game worn on, hence the missing extra steps that would see them crash Fleury's crease with exhuberance. On this night, Fleury once again stopped everything he could see, which did not include a rebound off a defenseman for the second time in two games.

The Penguins, especially on the power play, have found a method, that with doses of great patience, enables them to have better chances and clearer looks at Halak. Montreal's dedication and commitment to having bodies around their net has allowed Piitsburgh to run a counter play.

After five games in the series, the Penguins have outscored Montreal 11-10 not counting empty net goals (2). Of the 11 Pittsburgh goals, five have come from the blueline.

In the past four games, the Canadiens have held Piitsburgh to two goals or less, yet they trail 3-2 in the series.

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