It might not be quite as epic as David and Goliath, but the Montreal Canadiens seemed a minimal threat to the NHL‘s top team, the Washington Capitals. Washington was after all the first team to finish the regular season with over 120 points since Detroit did it in the 05-06 season.
For the Canadiens, the regular season came to a close with three straight losses holding on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs by just a thread. Going into the playoffs facing the team with the best record in hockey as their opponent, the doubters were plenty. Those that weren’t doubting probably weren’t aware that Washington, who went 30-5-6 at home throughout the regular season, would have the advantage of playing on their home ice four out of seven games.
Wednesday night, the culmination of one of the biggest upsets in recent years took place in Washington, thanks in large part to the goal keeping of Jaraslov Halak. The 24 year-old goalie played one of the best games of his career, in one of the biggest games of his career. Halak had been pulled in game 3 of the series, and benched in game 4, but more than seized the opportunity in his game 5 start.
Halak finished the night with 41 saves, as the Montreal Canadiens shocked superstar Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals, and their fans with a 2-1 victory.
The Canadiens will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round beginning Friday night, once again as the underdog, and once again without the home ice advantage. They will, however, have the advantage of having Jaraslov Halak in the crease.