OTTAWA – As the series shifts to Ottawa for Game 3, the Canadiens will be looking to make the most of their road ice advantage.
Finishing third in the league with 15 road wins in 2012-13, the Habs made a habit of being unwelcome guests in opposing buildings throughout the regular season. One of just four teams in the NHL to close out the year with more wins away than at their own rink, the Canadiens have managed to feel right at home on the road all season long.
“We’ve had as much success on the road this year as we have at home. Look at our record this season, and it’s pretty even,” mentioned Michel Therrien, who confirmed Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty would both be game-time decisions after missing Game 2 with upper body injuries. “We’ve shown all year that we’re capable of playing solid games on the road.”
With seven of the first 18 playoff games being won by visitors so far in the 2013 postseason, the Canadiens are in the hunt to join in on that trend on Sunday night – likely in front of at least a few friendly fans filling the seats at Scotiabank Place.
“I think some of our Habs fans are going to be coming. They seem to be everywhere so I wouldn’t doubt they’ll be here tonight,” guessed Ryan White, who scored his first career playoff goal on Friday night. “We’re hoping to play well in front of them and we’re hoping they’re going to be loud and rambunctious tonight.”
After using the crowd to their advantage to come out flying in the opening games of the series, Francis Bouillon will be looking to silence the SBP faithful off the bat to set the tone for the next two games in Ottawa. That means coming out with the same game plan to outshoot, outhit, outwork and outscore the Sens that saw them easily dominate Game 2.
“We’re looking to play a hard, tight-checking, emotional game. The first period is really important; you want to make sure you go out and play your game,” shared the veteran blue-liner, who will suit up for his 44th playoff game on Sunday night. “It’s important for us to come out hard, especially in the first five to 10 minutes of the game to get the momentum going in our favor. It’s not easy to keep momentum on your side for 60 minutes; it shifts throughout the game, but getting it to start the game on the road is important.”
The Canadiens have made a habit of coming out of the gates hard in the postseason, outshooting the Senators by a combined 65-40 in the first two periods so far in the series. Maintaining the same system they’ve had in place since the season started, the Habs will be looking for more of the same in their first road game of the 2013 postseason.
“For us, it’s about playing the same hockey we played in Game 1 and 2,” confirmed Bouillon. “We want to play that same way tonight. We’ve had a lot of success on the road this year and it’s going to be the way we play as a team that determines if we win tonight.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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