Habs force a deciding Game 7 with Penguins
MONTREAL — Two icings on an extended shift didn't doom the Penguins on Monday night.
However, a long second-period sequence didn't help in their 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in Game 6 of a second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
Technically, a goal by center Maxim Lapierre at 11:03 of the third period secured this win for the Canadiens, but only because a marker by right wing Bill Guerin pulled the Penguins closer with 1:24 remaining.
The Canadiens, the first NHL team to face the Penguins at the then-Civic Arena, can close their opponent's only home with a victory at Mellon Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Penguins are 2-4 in Game 7s at the Igloo, which will give way to Consol Energy Center next season.
"Whenever you hear a stat about the franchise's all-time record ... it's usually irrelevant," Penguins forward Craig Adams said. "Most of what's going into that stat happened five, 10, 15 years ago. It has nothing to do with the guys in this room.
"We've played a couple of Game 7s last year and (an elimination) Game 6 (at home) in that regard, so we have some experience."
An exhausting experience that Adams took part in during the second period of Game 6 helped contribute to the Penguins being forced into Game 7.
Montreal trailed, 2-1, on a first-period goal by Penguins center Sidney Crosby and a second-period marker from defenseman Kris Letang in response to Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri's goal only one minute and 13 seconds into Game 6.
The Penguins attempted 14 shots in the first seven minutes of the second period, including Letang's goal and a post-hit by defenseman Sergei Gonchar at 2:59.
However, any momentum gained from that sizzling start was stymied starting around the 7:20 mark when center Mark Letestu, forwards Mike Rupp and Adams, and defensemen Jordan Leopold and Alex Goligoski were stuck on the ice for about two consecutive minutes.
"Yeah," Letestu said of that span feeling like an eternity. "It was one of the longer ones."
The best that group could do was twice ice the puck, which by rules, prevented them from leaving for faceoffs in their own zone — draws that featured fresh five-man units by the Canadiens.
By the time Crosby's line and the defense pairing Gonchar and Brooks Orpik relieved their five exhausted teammates, the Canadiens — buoyed by energy from a deafening crowd of 21,273 — looked like a team ready to pounce.
They did with a second goal from Cammalleri at 10:45 and one from returning defenseman Jaroslav Spacek 2:30 later.
Those were the 10th and 11th shots by Montreal, whose spring-and-chance offensive philosophy has seemed to rattle Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in two-straight road losses in his home province.
"Sometimes, it's not all about the goal," Lapierre said. "It can be about a shift and the effort before. The payoffs are all about moment. "
Added the Penguins' Adams: "When it gets loud, you can't hear your teammates out there, but you've got to get your composure. Those are the momentum swings that happen in every game."
Hitting posts also can swing the tide in favor of a grateful goalie, and Montreal's Jaroslav Halak was happy to note the Penguins' ringing three second-period shots off the pipes.
Those didn't count as shots, but Halak turned aside 34 for his sixth victory in seven starts that concluded with him facing at least 35 shots.
The Penguins victories in this series have come in games they've registered 24, 25 and 25 shots, respectively.
"Perhaps I should talk about not getting shots for Game 7," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, tongue firmly in-cheek.
"It's interesting, but we're going to try and get to the offensive zone ... grind them down there and get shots on net. That's proving that we need to get guys in front of the net to get goals on (Halak)."
In a Game 7, whatever works will do.
Game 7 tickets
Tickets for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Penguins and Canadiens at Mellon Arena will go on sale at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Approximately 1,500 tickets are available. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets on-line at Ticketmaster.com . Tickets also will be available at the Mellon Arena Gate One Box Office, all area Ticketmaster locations or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.
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