St. Louis, MO, United States (AHN) – Goalie Jaroslav Halak was the central character in the Montreal Canadiens’ improbable dramatic run during the NHL playoffs.
He stymied the top-seeded Washington Capitals and defending champs Pittsburgh Penguins as the No. 8 seed Canadiens reached the brink of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Halak will now try to recreate his magic with the St. Louis Blues, who acquired the Slovakian star in a trade that sent forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz to Montreal.
The Blues parted with two players who seemed ready to play key parts in the team’s future; Eller was a 2007 first-round draft pick, and Schultz was a former third-rounder.
The deal was a stunner around the league, although Halak, 25, was a restricted free agent and Montreal wasn’t enthusiastic about a contract extension, with top prospect Carey Price being groomed to replace him between the pipes.
Halak was 26-13-5 and ranked fourth in save percentage (.924) during the regular season. His 2.40 goals against average was ninth in the league.
But then he sparked the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals, eliminating the Caps and Penguins with Game 7 victories.
Halak was the top goalie in the playoffs with a .923 save percentage, second with nine victories and third in goals against at 2.55.