Habs heading to Tampa with confidence
Canadiens forward Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau throws an autographed puck to fans after being named the first star of Game 5 on Saturday night against Tampa. Montreal trails the Eastern Conference series 3-2 after digging itself out of a 3-0 hole. (USA Today Sports)
Those Canadiens car flags nearly looked unflappable blowing in the wind during a trip down Rene Levesque Boulevard Sunday morning.
Kind of the same way the Habs look themselves at the moment.
Instead of packing their bags and heading their separate ways Sunday, the Habs went to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport for an afternoon flight to prepare for Game 6 on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning as this Montreal team tries to rewrite the NHL’s history books.
Trailing this second round series 3-2 after an emotional 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre, the Habs have whittled away at the Bolts commanding 3-0 lead and are trying to become just the fifth team in NHL history to come back from the devastating deficit to win a series.
The Habs have suddenly felt the momentum shift their way but they still need another win to get this series back to Montreal on Thursday night for what would be a historic Game 7. This series may have gotten off to a disastrous start for the Habs, but it certainly could be a big finish.
“Momentum is confidence, and first of all you’ve got to work really, really hard to get momentum,” said Habs coach Michel Therrien in a conference call Sunday night from Tampa. “I think our players, and our team, I like the commitment from everyone. This is something as a coach I’m proud of with my players.
“They’ve committed to their team, they’ve committed to their teammates. We’ve got our backs against the wall again this year and we’re reacting the right way and we’re reacting with confidence that we’re able to accomplish what we’re supposed to do every game. I know our team is going to be well prepared and the only thing we’re trying to do is force Game 7 in Montreal.”
You have to give the Habs credit for getting here. Nobody expected it after they suffered a devastating last-minute loss in Game 3 to fall behind 3-0 in the first place, but they’ve pushed their way back into the series and shown the Bolts that they won’t go down without a fight.
While goaltender Ben Bishop was getting plenty of credit after the first three games, there are suddenly questions surrounding his play. This is his first taste of playoff experience while Carey Price has plenty from his past and won a gold medal in 2014 at the Olympics in Sochi.
This series hasn’t been all about goaltending but it’s getting to the point where it may be the difference — especially if it goes the distance — and the Habs certainly feel good about the guy they have in their net. In an elimination game, the Habs believe Price will be at his best ... again.
“I’m expecting him to be Carey Price,” Therrien added. “There are a lot of players, on important nights, they like that kind of pressure and they like to play those type of games.
“(Saturday) was a true example. Carey can make some key saves for us. There are players who like those kind of challenges and definitely Carey Price is one of them.”
Bolts coach Jon Cooper isn’t convinced his team is feeling a whole lot of heat just because the Habs have won a couple in a row and are suddenly back in the series.
“Pressure ... the second you make the playoffs there’s added pressure,” Cooper said. “There’s pressure all the time and it builds as the series goes on. I don’t look (at losing two straight) as added pressure. The goal is to get to four games and it doesn’t matter how you get there.
“If this series goes seven and we win 4-3, people aren’t going to write that we blew a 3-0 lead, and then won the series, it’s just going to be, ‘We won the series.’”
Yup, but getting this over with in Game 6 would be the Lightning’s best option.
BEST YET TO COME?
The Tampa Bay Lightning still feel like they’re in control.
While everybody is trying to pin the pressure card on them because they’ve lost two straight to the Habs, they’re feeling pretty good about themselves heading into Game 6 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on Tuesday night.
To listen to the players in Montreal room, you would think they have Tampa Bay right where they want it, but it’s the Habs who are facing elimination and have no margin for error.
“The law of averages says our ‘A’ game has to come out here pretty soon,” said Tampa forward Brenden Morrow in a conference call Sunday. “We haven’t had our best stuff yet but I still think we believe our best hockey matches up pretty good against their team.
“We just have to find a way to muster it up. Hopefully, this little bit of adversity is going to bring that out of us.”