Before each game, a group of Montreal Canadiens players gather outside the dressing room and warm up with a soccer ball.
That exercise paid off for Michael Cammalleri on Sunday when he scored the winning goal in a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena to even their best-of-seven EasternConference semifinal at a game apiece.
Cammalleri used his skate to lift up a rebound and then hit the puck in mid-air past a surprised Marc-Andre Fleury in the Penguins net.
"P.K. (Subban) had a nice point presence on the power play and made a nice shot on net," said Cammalleri. "At that point, me and (Brian Gionta) are like two dogs on a bone trying to get the net and find a rebound. The first rebound hit me but the second one I was able to kick it to my stick. Those plays are more reactionary; there's not much time to think."
On his second goal, an insurance tally late in the third period, Cammalleri didn't give Fleury any time to think. He took a lead pass from Tomas Plekanec and blasted a 20-footer off the rush. He tucked the shot into the top corner on Fleury's glove side.
"I used the element of surprise," said Cammalleri, taking his inspiration from Sun Tzu's Chinese classic The Art of War.
Cammalleri, who leads all playoff scorers with eight goals, said he's merely doing what he's expected to do.
"I've always said we have different responsibilities and creating offence is what me and some other guys are supposed to do and it's nice to see the puck go in," he said.
Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak bounced back from a subpar performance in Game 1 and stopped 38 shots, but his play was only one of several factors which went into the victory.
The Canadiens turned things around on special teams after giving up four power-play goals in Game 1. The Penguins were 0-for-3 Sunday.
"I think it's just matter that we executed what we wanted to do," said Gionta, who scored the other Montreal goal but also led the team in short-handed time with 3:29.
"The first game we were a step behind in everything," added Gionta. "With the way they move the puck and the players they have, they're going to take advantage of that. I thought we did better of being aware and getting in those lanes. It wasn't as much making an adjustment as executing what we set out to do."
Gionta said the Canadiens were fresher than they were in Game 1 after taking a day off Saturday. And guys like Gionta needed to be well-rested because Martin used only three lines after the first period.
Gionta did put much relevance in the fact the Canadiens were outshot 39-21.
"Obviously, we need to clean up some things but, at this time of year, it doesn't matter. You get wins, that's all you need to do. We gotta find ways to get more pucks to the net, challenge Fleury. We did a good job of that early on, but then we got away with it."
Matt Cooke opened the scoring for Pittsburgh in the first period, but the high-powered Penguins were unable to solve Halak after that. Fleury made 18 saves for Pittsburgh.