It starts with one
With two games already in the bank and the Flyers currently outscoring the Canadiens 9-0 so far, the Habs will be looking to light the lamp above Michael Leighton’s head for the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals. It may not be easy to solve a netminder riding a 166-minute shutout streak, but Marc-Andre Bergeron knows all it takes is one.
“Luckily we’re playing hockey, not soccer,” reminded Bergeron. “We’re starting at 0-0. If it was 9-0 heading into tonight’s game, that would be a bit more complicated, but that’s not the case. It doesn’t matter what order you win your games in either. Whether you win four straight or win two, lose two and win two more, the goal is still exactly the same: win four games.”
In that quest for the Habs’ first win in the third round, star center Tomas Plekanec will also be looking to bust open the Flyers’ flood gates early in Game 3.
“It doesn’t matter if you lose 5-4 or 2-0, it’s still a loss and we have to find a way to score goals. If we score at least one goal, we’ll get more,” professed Plekanec, who scored the overtime-winner in Game 1 against the Capitals. “Especially in the second game we had some pretty good scoring chances and some pretty good shots. But the traffic wasn’t as good as it should be. The key for tonight is that we have to be right in front of [Leighton].”
While rookie blue-liner P.K. Subban may be new to the NHL let alone its postseason, he’s been a quick study in Playoffs 101 since his arrival in Montreal 11 games ago.
“If you can score early, it’s good for the team because you’re not trying to play catch up the rest of the game,” explained the 21-year-old rearguard. “It’s great to get the first goal, but you have to continue to battle hard no matter what bounces come your way. And as a defenseman, if you shoot and there’s traffic in front, you never know what can happen. We just have to continue getting bodies in front and shot the puck – that’s how you score in the playoffs.”
Gaining key knowledge from both the highs and lows of his first-ever NHL playoffs, Subban already sees the benefit of finding the silver lining and focusing on the positives.
“We’re trying to build,” offered Subban on his team’s game plan. “The second game, we definitely had a better work ethic and won a lot of battles and that’s what we have to continue doing if we’re going to have success. They work hard and they’re willing to battle so we have to match that.”
It’s exactly that attention to detail that Habs coach Jacques Martin knows is the key to finally seeing Leighton fishing pucks out of the back of his net in Game 3.
“If your focus is just on scoring goals, that’s a result and I think it’s easy to miss the boat. To me, you have to focus on the process,” warned Martin. “Scoring goals is the result of doing things on the ice and our emphasis is going to be on doing the right things on the ice and the goals are going to come.”
No stranger to scoring in the playoffs, no player has done so more often this spring than Michael Cammalleri. With 12 goals to show for his time in the first two rounds, Cammy will be looking to one-time, backhand or grind his 13th past Leighton back at the Bell Centre.
“I don’t know the exact amount in pounds or tonnes or whatever you want to call it, but I would say probably a lot for this whole city,” admitted Cammalleri on just how much weight would be lifted off of the Canadiens’ shoulders if the home team manages to get on the board early on Thursday night. “Let’s get some tonight. And let’s not just get one; let’s get a bunch.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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