MONTREAL -- After scoring a delightful third-period do-it-yourself goal, one cobbled from equal parts skill and determination,
You don't often see that particular form of emoting in the rink. The gesture was more European Champions League soccer than Stanley Cup hockey, but Lapierre, a Canadiens center, can chew the scenery with the best of them. In the first-round series negotiated by the underdog Canadiens against Washington, he scored a goal and drew two diving penalties in Game 6.
This unusual combination should be immortalized as a Max Lapierre hat trick.
Anyway this is his balancing -- or some would say circus -- act. Right now the practical parts of his game have taken center stage over his klieg-light urges.
Again Montreal won an elimination game -- its fourth of the 2010 playoffs -- and the fingerprints of one Maxim Lapierre, Superstar Extraordinaire, were all over a 4-3 victory against the Penguins. Before Lapierre scored what would be the Game 6 winner, an unassisted goal at 11:03 of the third period on a play in which he would beat Pittsburgh defenseman
"Usually I score on tip shots or from right in front of the net," the 25-year-old Lapierre said of his goal, in which he stormed down the left side and, instead of dipping behind the net for a wraparound, bulled to the front to beat goalie
"He wasn't happy with his year," said
Lapierre is among the leading antagonists in the NHL for his motor mouth and a seeming reluctance to back up his words, unlike, say
Crosby had been getting a rough ride, in the series and in the public prints. (One Montreal bugle had the effrontery to refer to him as Sid the Skid, a sneering tribute to his having gone without a goal in the first five games.) But his situation figured to improve in Game 6 without his nemesis, 6-foot-7, 241-pound Canadiens defenseman
Gill took the warm-up but couldn't go, forcing rookie
The slender Pittsburgh lead seemed moderately safe. The Canadiens were stuck in a rut and the Penguins were dominating down low, getting shots and subsequent rebounds on harried goalie
But in a series dominated by big names, it was Montreal's third line that changed the tenor of the match and, perhaps, the series.
If the Fatigued Five -- Rupp, linemates
"That's huge," Pyatt said of the icing. "Allowing us to get fresh guys out there."
During the TV timeout that followed shortly after Cammalleri's goal, 21,273 in the Bell Centre stood and bellowed, a wall of sound that might have been heard a few blocks north on Ste. Catherine St. -- except the local constabulary had blocked off a stretch of the thoroughfare, fearing a little too much post-game exuberance from a city that knows its pucks and is practiced in the dark arts of hockey riots.
Three and a half minutes later, defenseman
Spacek, Lapierre noted, "looked he was 18 again."
And Lapierre looked like he was 38, a veteran who has put childish things aside and seems as ready as anyone for a Game 7 Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Classic, anyone?