BOSTON – Winning in the playoffs isn’t easy, especially when you're up against a perennial powerhouse like the Bruins and fail to keep your foot on the gas from start to finish.
On Saturday afternoon, Claude Julien’s troops proved once again why they claimed the Presidents’ Trophy during the 2013-14 campaign, rallying from 3-1 down in the third period to best the Canadiens 5-3 at TD Garden. With the win, Boston evened its best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Habs at one game apiece heading back to Montreal for the next two tilts.
“We need to do smarter things out there, make sure that we’re being smart with the puck and putting ourselves in a good position. With nine minutes to go in the game, we’ve got to make sure that we’re shutting it down. Good teams know how to shut things down when they get the lead,” offered defenseman P.K. Subban, who assisted on both of Thomas Vanek’s goals during the matinee affair while logging 26:58 of ice time.
“We’re going to look at the tape and review it. We’ve got two days to look over everything. We’re not in panic mode by any means,” added Subban, referencing the fact that the Canadiens stole home-ice advantage right back in the series by earning an all-important double-overtime win in Game 1. “They’re a good team. They’re a resilient team. They’ve got a lot of good players over there, so we’ve got to prepare and refocus.”
Like Subban, Price was quick to point that every team experiences its fair share of ups and downs over the course of any postseason run. The three-time All-Star insists what matters now is putting the tough loss behind them in short order, staying positive and looking ahead to Game 3 on home turf.
“It’s time to regroup. Winners do that. We realize the situation that we’re in and I think we’ve done an excellent job so far. We came and did what we wanted to do which was split at least the first two games. Now, we’re heading back to home ice. We’ve just got to regroup and realize what the situation is. I think we’re in a good spot,” explained Price, who made 30 stops in the Canadiens’ first loss of the 2014 playoffs after winning five straight games dating back to their opening-round sweep of Tampa Bay. “That’s playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about. Right now, they’re throwing pucks at the net and they’re finding a way through. We’re going to have to do the same on our end.”
While the Game 2 defeat at the hands of their archrivals inevitably stings, a veteran bench boss like Michel Therrien understands that coming home with one victory in their back pocket is ultimately what matters most.
“When you win one of two games on the road, it’s positive, especially in a place like this. We’re expecting a long series and you have to give credit to a Bruins team that never quit,” offered Therrien, praising the Bruins’ combativeness as they pressed to avoid dropping consecutive games in their own barn for just the second time all year. "It would’ve been great to win both games here. It would’ve been a great accomplishment. But, if we look at our trip as a whole, we still won Game 1.”
That being said, Therrien believes the fact that the Canadiens hit their stride with the man advantage bodes well for the next installment of the series come Tuesday night in Montreal.
“Our power play was very good. We made a few adjustments that I liked. We were aggressive. I thought it clicked well. It’s the first time we’ve lost a lead in the third period, so it’s still positive,” praised Therrien, whose squad tallied twice on six power play opportunities during another physical affair in which the two clubs combined for 65 hits – 31 dished out by Montreal.
Power play efficiency aside, the key now – as evidenced by the outcome of Game 2 – will be to match the Bruins’ intensity at every opportunity from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer.
“We need all guys going all the time,” mentioned Subban. “We’ve got to play better for a full 60."
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com
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