Habs' Game 1 win has Baruchel beaming

Canadian-born actor Jay Baruchel has seen quite a bit of hockey in his young lifetime. He'd also like to see a lot more of what he witnessed Thursday night.

"Boy oh boy, was that something else," he gushed to NHL.com the day after the Canadiens upset Washington with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1. For Baruchel, 28, a lifelong Canadiens fan raised in Montreal, it was a slice of heaven.

"Here's the thing: I won't lie, I was in the minority of people who were never scared of playing Washington," he said from his home in Montreal. "Truthfully, there's only one team I was scared of facing it the first round, and that was Pittsburgh. Because I know historically we do quite well against the Capitals. But regardless of who the Caps played in the first round, I kind of had the feeling they would tank in this playoffs.

"It was a hell of a game. There were a couple of times we had to hang on for dear life, but other times where we mopped the floor with them. So it was a great win." -- Jay Baruchel

"It was a hell of a game. There were a couple of times we had to hang on for dear life, but other times where we mopped the floor with them. So it was a great win."

Baruchel will star next to Nicolas Cage in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," due out this coming July. Recently, he finished filming "Notre Dame de Grace," and is fortunate to have the free time to watch his beloved Canadians in the postseason.

"It hasn't worked out like this in years. I'm usually always working during this period," Baruchel said. "When I was in Pittsburgh shooting 'She's Out of My League' it was right during the playoffs and we got knocked out and the Penguins went to the Stanley Cup, which was depressing, to be in the city of the team that goes all the way to the Final."

It's far too early for even Baruchel to say that the Canadiens are on the path to their 25th Stanley Cup title, but he admits Game 1 has him wanting more and that the mood of the city in Montreal is palpable.

"Everybody is psyched as hell up here," he said. "At least Facebook was crazy with comments. The status of all my friends had something to do with last night's game. I mean, listen, two years ago we had a riot from getting out of the first round of the playoffs against Boston. We blew up six cop cars just for making it into the second round.

"In my opinion, we out-passed them like crazy, we just played great tape-to-tape hockey. Our special teams were a bit stronger as well. We shut down Ovechkin. Washington had 50 shots and he didn't have a single shot on goal; that's our shutdown guys working their butt's off. Jaroslav Spacek was incredible last night. And Jaroslav Halak in net. As great as he's been all year, he was on fire. Those are the things that got us the W."

As for Halak, the backup-turned-starting goalie who excelled with 45 saves Thursday for his first career playoff win, Baruchel has all the confidence in the world in the 24-year-old Slovak and he says he's not alone.

"The majority of people I know here have favored Halak for a long time. But it's still split," Baruchel said. "There's a great deal of affection for Carey Price, and for good reason. And I'm one of the people … I'm a huge fan of his as well. But that being said, I think there are far worse problems to have than deciding which amazing goaltender you start with.

"Halak, you can't argue with his numbers and his performances. He's just having a hell of a year. You have to be blind to not acknowledge that."

Despite the great start to the series, Baruchel added that the Canadiens have areas to work on going forward, starting with Saturday's Game 2 (7 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN).

"We have to play a bit more physical. There's only so much we can do in that department given our size, or I should say lack thereof," he said. "I think they have to amp up the physical play a bit. I also think we need to take more shots. We need to get the puck on net way more than we have. We'll never be able to go toe-to-toe with the Capitals in shooting, but we have the No. 2 power play in the League, so we have to draw penalties and take as many shots as possible. Then just keep doing what we're doing, keep that puck moving."

Contact Rocky Bonanno at rbonanno@nhl.com