All or nothing
Despite delivering arguably their best performance of the series, the Habs came up empty-handed against the Caps in Game 4. Now finding themselves painted into a corner, the Canadiens will have rattle off three straight wins to survive the opening round.
Six years removed from doing just that against the second-seeded Bruins in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, the only player from that squad who is still in the Habs dressing room knows what he and teammates must do to mount a similar comeback this time around.
“I didn’t necessarily like our performances in our last three games, but I will say we played two great periods in all of them,” said Markov. “We have to realize that games are 60 minutes. We have to do a better job at protecting our leads.”
Protecting leads also includes getting out of the habit of allowing late-period back-breaking goals. Especially shorthanded ones that tie the game heading into the second intermission with only 6.3 seconds left on the clock.
“Those are things that are going to happen – you wish it wouldn’t happen at such a crucial time – but we just need to get better at putting it behind us and moving on,” said Hal Gill. “We can’t let it get us down.”
With their backs now firmly against the wall and one of the best players in the world smelling blood, the Habs will have to lay it all on the line on Friday night.
“It’s do or die. Our last chance,” said Price. “We have a lot of character in this dressing room and we’re not about to go down without a fight.”
If there’s a cliché out there, you’re bound to hear it over the next 48 hours from either dressing room. That being said, there’s no denying the Habs know they can compete with the Capitals
“We weren’t expecting to win the series in four games. We know this series is going to be a long one if we’re going to win it and we believe in ourselves,” said Marc-Andre Bergeron. “We’re going to go into Washington desperate and full of energy.”
That isn’t all Jacques Martin’s squad will have stuffed into their bags before leaving for D.C. No one has to remind them they came painfully close to stealing both games at the Verizon Center last week.
“All I know is, we did it before and we almost did it again,” snapped Gill. “We’re definitely ready to go back there.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
Habs overcome by Caps, fall back 3-1 in series
The Numbers game - April 21, 2010