Canadiens expected tight playoff series with the Bruins

The feeling of impending doom that seems to have descended on the Montreal Canadiens fans had not reached the dressing room of their suburban training centre on Sunday afternoon. Centre David Desharnais even saw the notion of competing in a must-win Game 6 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal against the Boston Bruins as fun.

BROSSARD, Que. — The feeling of impending doom that seems to have descended on the Montreal Canadiens fans had not reached the dressing room of their suburban training centre on Sunday afternoon.

Centre David Desharnais even saw the notion of competing in a must-win Game 6 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal against the Boston Bruins as fun.

The Canadiens trail the Bruins 3-2 ahead of the Monday night game at the Bell Centre.

Desharnais recalled that his team was in the same predicament against Boston in the first round in 2011 and ended up winning 2-1 before falling in overtime in Game 7.

“It’s not the first time for all of us,” said Desharnais. “It’s fun. You play all year to be in this kind of situation, playing a big game at home. We need to take advantage of it.”

A 4-2 defeat in Boston on Saturday night, in which conceding the Bruins’ first two power-play goals of the series had them down 3-0 in the second period, has put the Canadiens on the brink of elimination.

A concern is that they haven’t scored a goal at even strength in the last two games, including a 1-0 overtime loss in Game 4, which was the first time in four tries they failed to win on home ice in this year’s playoffs.

But coach Michel Therrien said that was no reason to panic.

“We’re playing the Boston Bruins,” he said. “They were the best team in the NHL in the regular season, so you have to give them credit.

“We have to find a solution to be better five-on-five and we will. That’s the challenge to play against a team like that. But we’ve faced adversity through the course of the season and what I like about this group is we’ve always got that attitude when we face adversity. It won’t be any different.”

Captain Brian Gionta added: “We’re playing at home. For the most part of the series we’ve outplayed them and we feel comfortable.”

Going into the game in Boston, Therrien had called on his top offensive players to adjust better to the added intensity of playoff hockey.

Max Pacioretty, a 39-goal scorer in the regular season who has one in nine playoff games, responded with lots of energy. He tied with P.K Subban for the team lead with six shots on goal and assisted on Subban’s power-play goal late in the third period.

Desharnais added three shots, but still has only one assist in the series.

And Thomas Vanek, who has been quiet since potting two power-play goals in Game 2, was also held off the scoresheet.

“We need everyone and I’m part of that group, so obviously we’ve got to raise our game,” said Vanek. “Starting from myself.”

The Austrian right-winger was acquired at the trade deadline to add punch to the attack and mostly he has done that.

The Canadiens didn’t need their top guns much as they swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, but their production has been missed against a tight defensive club like the Bruins, which seems to have six-foot-nine defenceman Zdeno Chara on the ice for every important shift.

“It’s been a little bit different series than Tampa,” said Vanek. “That’s a big team over there and I thought overall it’s a team that’s been playing well.

“We knew from the get-go that they have depth and I think that’s what makes them strong. But so do we. I don’t think this series is about one or two players. It’s about depth. We still believe in this group and we’ll be ready to go.”

Boston’s depth came through on Saturday as the third line of centre Carl Soderberg with Loui Eriksson and Matt Fraser produced a pair of goals. Fraser had scored the only goal in Game 4 as well.

Therrien gave no hint whether he will stick with slow-moving defenceman Douglas Murray, against whom Bruins coach Claude Julien likes to put the Soderberg line. Murray replaced the much-smaller but more mobile Francis Bouillon after the first two games.

He also wouldn’t discuss his decision to replace veteran Daniel Briere with Brandon Prust, a more robust forward who looks to be playing through some sort of upper-body injury.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP
Health Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

A fallen Western Red cedar tree at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich, B.C., Thursday, May 26, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Logging delay agreement for B.C. old-growth tree stand helps endangered spotted owls

Deal announced to hold off logging watershed for a year

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

FILE - Cameron Forte (right) and his Fraser Valley Bandits are 2-0 at the Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series after being the Saskatchewan Rattlers. (CEBL photo)
CEBL releases 14-game 2021 schedule, hopes to see fans attend games in person

Season will kick off with the Edmonton Stingers and the Fraser Valley Bandits

FILE - Keegan Messing performs during the Men’s Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won’t be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing leads Canadian figure skating team at world championships

Messing was the only Canadian to compete on the Grand Prix circuit this season

Nurses episode, titled “Achilles Heel,” was first aired on Global in February 2020. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Global pulls ‘Nurses’ episode after scene with Orthodox Jews deemed anti-Semitic

TORONTO — Global TV says it has pulled an episode of Toronto-set… Continue reading

Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward for the return of her two French bulldogs. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Lady Gaga’s dog walker shot, French bulldogs stolen in LA

Dog walker expected to survive injuries

Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano tries to help goaltender David Rittich stop a shot from Ottawa Senators right wing Drake Batherson during first-period NHL action Thursday, February 25, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Colin White scores two goals to lead Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over Calgary Flames

Colin White scores two goals to lead Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over Calgary Flames

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Most Read