Have you learned how to pronounce Jaroslav Halak yet? If not, it’s about time you add some Czech (or Slovak, depending on how you roll) to your vocabulary.
The Slovakian* goaltender is crafting a special playoff performance for the Montreal Canadiens, first by willing them past top-seeded Washington in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Halak’s latest Herculean effort came in Thursday’s 3-2 win over Pittsburgh, which tied that semifinal series at two games a piece. Halak made 33 saves.
Bear in mind the Canadiens mustered just 25 shots against Marc-Andre Fleury. In the first two periods Pittsburgh put up 26 shots to Montreal’s nine.
And yet Halak stood tall, pitching a shutout of the final two periods, allowing his teammates to score two third period goals for the win. Brian Gionta scored the game winner.
Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5.
One more epic performance by Halak could send the Canadiens back to Canada with a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance for a historic close out in front of the rabid home crowd.
Think Pittsburgh would be up for that? Sure. But so is Halak.
Long live the Canadiens.