Canadiens, Capitals meet in Game 7 tonight on TSN

The Sports Network, with TSN files
4/28/2010 3:32:00 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to shock the hockey world tonight at Verizon Center as they take on the top-seeded Washington Capitals in the decisive Game 7 of their conference quarterfinal series.

You can see the game on TSN and TSN HD at 7pm et/4pm pt.

The Capitals, who also won the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best team during the regular season, led this best-of-seven series three games to one, but have allowed the eighth-seeded Habs to force tonight's definitive battle.

"I think either team would have loved to have won it earlier, Game 7 is what it is. It's an exciting part of hockey lore," said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. "Heroes are made and goats are talked about on TSN on the highlight's for the next year so it's an exiting time for an athlete this is the position you want to be in."

After losing 2-1 on home ice in Game 5 on Friday, the Caps were dealt a 4-1 setback Monday evening in Montreal, forcing a seventh game. It is the fourth straight playoff series where the Capitals have gone to seven games. The last time the Capitals played a series that did not go seven games was 2003, they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games in the opening round. The NHL record for consecutive seven-game series is five, set by Colorado from 2001-03.

The Capitals are 2-6 all-time in Game 7s and have lost two out of three times in this situation over the last two years. Washington lost to Philadelphia in the 2008 conference quarterfinals, then beat the New York Rangers in seven games during last year's opening round before bowing out to Pittsburgh in the East semifinals. The Caps held a 2-0 series lead over the Penguins last spring before dropping four of the final five contests.

Montreal has advanced after falling behind 3-1 in a series in recent memory, pulling off the feat against Boston in the 2004 conference quarterfinals. The Habs have won their last two Game 7s, also defeating the Bruins in a decisive game in the opening round of the 2008 postseason. Montreal is 11-8 all-time when a best-of-seven series goes the distance.

Jaroslav Halak and Michael Cammalleri were the heroes for Montreal in the Game 6 victory. Halak turned aside 53 shots, setting a club record for most saves in a regulation playoff game, while Cammalleri netted two first-period goals in the 4-1 triumph at Bell Centre.

Maxim Lapierre provided some insurance in the third period and Tomas Plekanec's empty-net goal sealed the win for the Canadiens.

It's hard to believe Halak was benched in Game 4 of this series, considering he has a superb .931 save percentage in five games during the set. Since being pulled in Game 3, Halak has stopped 90-of-92 shots sent his way.

"It could be different (the next game)," Halak said. "There may be some bad bounces, but I'll go out and try to do my best."

Eric Fehr spoiled Halak's bid for his first career playoff shutout with 4:50 left in regulation. Halak will get his first-ever start in a Game 7 tonight.

"Halak played really well for them," Fehr said. "We had a lot of great opportunities but we didn't cash in."

Washington was 0-for-6 on the power play and has scored just once on 30 opportunities with the man advantage in this series.

Semyon Varlamov, starting his fourth straight game after relieving Jose Theodore during Game 2, stopped 18 shots for the Capitals, who are in danger of sharing the same fate as last year's Presidents' Trophy winners. Like Washington, San Jose aced the regular season but failed the playoff test, losing to Anaheim in the opening round.

Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin failed to register a point in Game 6, marking the first time he was held off the scoresheet since the series opener. The Russian winger fired eight shots on net, but also had his goal-scoring streak halted at four games. Ovechkin has two goals and an assist in three career Game 7 appearances.

Meanwhile, Washington left winger Alexander Semin -- Ovechkin's countryman -- has been unable to help his team in this series after scoring a career-high 40 goals in the regular season. Semin, who has gone 13 straight playoff games without a goal, has just one assist in this series, despite firing 36 shots on net over six games.

The Caps, will not have defenseman Tom Poti tonight after he suffered an eye injury in Game 6. Poti, who will be replaced in the lineup by Karl Alzner, was leading Washington with a plus-nine rating in this series and was also second among the team's defensemen in average ice time per game.

Alzner, the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft, was recalled from Washington's AHL affiliate in Hershey. The 21-year-old has skated in 51 career NHL games, but none in the playoffs.

The Canadiens could be without veteran defenseman Jaroslav Spacek again tonight after he missed the last two games with an unspecified illness. Montreal recalled defenseman P.K. Subban from Hamilton of the AHL and the 43rd overall pick of the 2007 draft notched an assist in his playoff debut. Spacek was third on the club with an average of 21 minutes, 47 seconds of ice time per game during the regular season. Head coach Jacques Martin said on Wednesday morning that Spacek would be a game-time decision.

The Habs and Caps have never faced each other in the postseason before this spring, but played a very tight season series this year. Each team won two games and only one of the four tilts was decided by more than one goal -- a 4-2 win by Washington on Jan. 5.

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