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Jaroslav Halák (jpg)

Jaroslav Halák

Halák went on to be named the Montreal Canadiens' Molson Cup Player of the Year for the 2009-10 season and was designated the starter heading into their first-round playoff match-up against the President's Trophy-winning Washington Capitals. In the sixth game of the series, Halák stopped 53 shots to set a club record for a playoff game (in regulation-time), leading the Canadiens to a 4-1 victory. Ultimately, the Canadiens overcame a 3-1 series deficit to win the series in seven games, marking one of the biggest upsets in NHL history. The win was attributed largely to Halák's play as he turned aside 131 of Washington's 134 shots in games 5 through 7, frustrating the league's top scoring team from the regular season. The Canadiens moved on to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, and defeated them in seven games as well, marking a second consecutive major upset. Montreal won the decisive game 5-2, and Halák was named the first star. The Canadiens faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Final, and their surprising playoff-run came to an end with a 4-1 series loss. At the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, both Halák and Carey Price became restricted free agents and a great goaltending debate emerged in Montreal over who would remain with the team, playoff-hero Halák, or the younger Price. After weeks of media speculation the Canadiens chose Price and on June 17 controversially traded Halák to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for two prospects, center Lars Eller and right-winger Ian Schultz (brother of Jeff Schultz). On July 6 Halák signed a four year $15 million dollar contract with the Blues. Prior to the 2010–11 season, Halák held an autograph-signing in Montreal as a farewell and goodwill gesture, to thank fans for their support as well as to raise funds for the Montreal Ste-Justine Children's Hospital. Though 500 fans were expected, more than 5000 fans attended the event held at the Fairview Pointe-Claire mall, testifying to his popularity with Canadiens fans.

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