The Montreal Canadiens, the 16th-best team in the 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs, have forced their second straight Game 7 with a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. And if that wasn't incredible enough, apparently fourth-line pest Maxim Lapierre(notes) can do this for the game-winning tally in the third period:
Lapierre started the play just outside the blue line, winning a battle with Alex Gologoski for the puck. Gologoski chased him, and Lapierre took him on one-on-one in the offensive zone, eventually moving around him to the goal. Gologoski lost the check, Lapierre cut to the middle, lost the puck, gained it again and snapped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) that sent the Bell Centre into hysterics for about the 20th time in Game 6.
One of the better goals of the postseason and from one of the more unlikely sources for something so picturesque, as Lapierre is known more for annoyance than elegance. It was enough to make Darren Eliot of VERSUS compare Lapierre's effort to one you'd expect from Canadiens Hall of Famer Maurice "Rocket" Richard in his day ... which is pretty much as crazy as it sounds.
No Hal Gill(notes) or Andrei Markov(notes) on defense -- although who knows about Game 7. Instead, Jaroslav Spacek(notes) returned, scored a goal and played a dogged, efficient game. Jaroslav Halak(notes) had 34 saves and the benefit of at least three pucks ringing off of goalposts.
Finally, the fans. Towel-waving, "Ole" chanting fans that propelled the Canadiens to a decisive series finale.
Is home ice overrated? At times. But not Monday night. All the nostalgic, supernatural, "ghosts of the Forum," mystique-filled clichés that come to the forefront when Montreal makes its home arena rock were validated Monday. It felt, as improbable as it sounds, like the Canadiens fans wouldn't allow their team to lose in Game 6. And they didn't.