MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens’ improbable playoff run has reached a decisive seventh game for a second series in a row.

Michael Cammalleri scored his second goal of the game midway through the second period and Jaroslav Spacek netted the go-ahead tally 2:30 later for the Canadiens, who forced a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.

Maxim Lapierre also scored 11:03 into the third to give Montreal a 4-2 lead.

Bill Guerin deflected Sergei Gonchar’s slap shot from the right point past Jaroslav Halak with 1:24 remaining to draw Pittsburgh within one. But the Canadiens held on to set up Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

“For us, it’s the reality,” Cammalleri said. “If you pinch yourself, you’re beat. I remember when you first come in the league if you start sitting around staring in awe and catching flies you’ll be out pretty quick. Now we belong. We’re having fun. For us, hey, we’ve got an opportunity to knock these guys off in Game 7. Let’s go enjoy it and I’ll say the same thing I’ve said every game: ‘Let’s see if we can’t go and play a great game.’ “

Halak stopped 34 shots for the eighth-seeded Canadiens, who came back to beat Washington in the first round after falling into a 3-1 series hole against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals.

They now have an opportunity to end the reigning Stanley Cup champions’ run of five straight playoff series wins.

“We know it’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Lapierre said. “We know what to expect from them, from their fans, and we just need a good start in Pittsburgh.”

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in seven games in the first period. Crosby earned an assist for his 19th point in 12 games when Kris Letang scored for a second game in a row early in the second.

NOTES

RED WINGS: Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom says his oldest son is enrolled in a Swedish school for the fall — just in case he decides to retire.

Lidstrom, who has played 18 seasons, said if he chooses to re-sign with the Red Wings, his 16-year-old son Kevin will return to attend school in suburban Detroit.

Detroit Coach Mike Babcock said Lidstrom is too good to quit playing in the NHL and expects him to return because the team will be better next season and he likes winning.

 

BLUE JACKETS: Columbus has asked for and been granted permission to speak with Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean about its vacant head coaching position.

The Blue Jackets are in the process of hiring a replacement for the fired Ken Hitchcock. Interim head coach Claude Noel has yet to be interviewed, but the team has spoken to AHL coaches Kevin Dineen of the Portland Pirates and Scott Arniel of Manitoba.