Habs Cap off comeback

CanWest News Service
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Stunning upset lifts Canadiens past Capitals

The ugly purple welts, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges was saying in the hours before Wednesday night's game, "are playoff hockey."

But it's the Washington Capitals, the Habs' overwhelmingly favoured and shockingly vanquished opponent, who will have many unhappy weeks to lick their wounds.

The Montreal Canadiens' Brian Gionta celebrates teammate Marc-Andre Bergeron's goal against Washington Capitals' goalie Semyon Varlamov in Game 7 of the teams' Eastern Conference quarter-final in Washington Wednesday night. The Habs move on to Round 2, wh

WASHINGTON -

The ugly purple welts, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges was saying in the hours before Wednesday night's game, "are playoff hockey."

But it's the Washington Capitals, the Habs' overwhelmingly favoured and shockingly vanquished opponent, who will have many unhappy weeks to lick their wounds.

And it's Montreal, the entire city, that is lined up this morning, taking deli-style numbers at the defibrillator.

Who knew, who honestly knew, beyond the players in the Montreal dressing room and the coaches directing them that this might be possible?

A heart-stopping finish to an electrifying Game 7 in the Eastern Conference quarter-final puts the Canadiens in Pittsburgh on Thursday morning, where they will face Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup-champion Penguins in the Eastern semifinal beginning Friday night.

"We knew right away, right off the bat of the series," veteran Canadiens forward Brian Gionta said of a team's belief in itself.

"We played them hard the first four games, even though we weren't up (down 3-1, in fact, facing elimination in three consecutive games). We knew we could do some things better and bring it to them. And that's what we did the last three."

A massive part of the Canadiens' victory over the Capitals is written in their bruises, the team blocking 182 shots in seven games, including a series-high 41 in Wednesday night's 2-1 victory.

The defence at times was a fortress in front of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, an obstacle into which a muzzled, puzzled Washington offence drove puck after puck.

Forty-one Capitals shots got through to die in the pads, gloves and belly of the Slovakian netminder, who made 131 stops on 134 Washington shots in games 5, 6 and 7 for a ridiculous save percentage of .978.

What to say about Halak, who won't say a whole lot about himself?

"Jaro played a way that you kinda can't lose," said Canadiens forward Michael Cammalleri. "He was that good the last couple of games."

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin added his own praise, calling Halak's work generally the turning point in the series.

The face of this season's Canadiens had been shaped nearly 10 months ago, then-general manager Bob Gainey and his assistant, Pierre Gauthier, deciding to operate on the team not with a scalpel but a trowel.

The first-round Habs of 2008-09 had been a mess, swept into the playoff gutter by the Boston Bruins. So out went a bushel of players and in came a pint basket of new ones, veterans who have proven you don't simply gauge talent and heart with a tape measure or a large jersey.

Wednesday night, Gainey and Gauthier stood in a hallway not far from the Canadiens dressing room, the former wearing a familiar tight grin, Gauthier furiously working his BlackBerry.

Gainey politely declined to comment, deferring to Gauthier, the man who succeeded him as general manager during the season.

Gauthier in turn deferred to Martin, but he did allow that he was fiercely proud of what the Canadiens have accomplished.

The experts, per se, said there was no pressure on the Canadiens coming into this series. They were only roadkill, after all, for the Capitals, a warm-up act for Washington's two more rounds leading to the Stanley Cup final.

"No one gave us a chance. Everyone expected them to walk right over us," Gorges said. "When it got to Game 7, everyone was asking why it's taken them so long to clean us up."

Organizations: Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins

Geographic location: WASHINGTON, Montreal, Pittsburgh

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Alonzo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    take that go habs go i am one happy dude today

  • Jeff
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Can't wait to see all the anti-Hab comments start flowing in from the Leaf loving, Cindy Crosby loving haters.

    The Habs did what I(and most people) thought was impossible, and as a Habs fan I couldn't be more happier about it. I look forward to more possible impossibilities.
    GO HABS GO!!!

  • Denise
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Way to go Habs!

    Your fans had faith that you could do it!

  • Alonzo
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    take that go habs go i am one happy dude today

  • Jeff
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Can't wait to see all the anti-Hab comments start flowing in from the Leaf loving, Cindy Crosby loving haters.

    The Habs did what I(and most people) thought was impossible, and as a Habs fan I couldn't be more happier about it. I look forward to more possible impossibilities.
    GO HABS GO!!!

  • Denise
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Way to go Habs!

    Your fans had faith that you could do it!