The Penguins solved the mystery that was Jaroslav Halak, the red-hot goalie who stopped all but three of the 134 shots he faced in leading Montreal to rally from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Washington Capitals in seven games.
Halak was chased after giving up five goals on 20 shots in the Penguins’ 6-3 victory in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday night at Mellon Arena.
After allowing the Capitals – the league’s best power-play unit in the regular season – to score only one power-play goal in 33 opportunities in that first-round series, Josh Yohe writes that the Penguins won Game 1 by controlling center ice and going 4-for-4 on the man advantage.
The bigger story, as it turns out, was the second-period injury that caused Penguins iron man Jordan Staal to miss a shift for the first time in his four-year career.
The news only got worse when it was revealed that Staal required surgery to repair a severed tendon in his right foot. There is no timetable for his return.
The Canadiens also suffered a serious loss when their best blue-liner, Andrei Markov, was injured on a hit by Matt Cooke.
Trib columnist Joe Starkey believes the Penguins still can coast through the Eastern Conference without Staal.
But two players have to raise their game, Trib beat writer Rob Rossi says, if the Penguins want to repeat.
Speaking of that, Bob Cohn writes that the NHL’s salary cap is the great equalizer that prevents teams from buying a Cup championship.
Game 2 is at 2 p.m. today at the Igloo and will be televised on NBC.
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