Bruins go for road sweep, try to finish off Habs
BRUINS at CANADIENS
(Boston leads best-of-seven series, 3-2)
TV: CBC (HD), RDS (HD), VERSUS (HD), NESN (HD)
Despite a rocky start -- two straight home losses to open the series -- Boston has taken command of the series with three straight wins, featuring timely scoring, clutch goaltending and supreme work ethic. The Bruins became the first team in five tries to win at home when they copped a 2-1 double-overtime win in Saturday's Game 5 at TD Garden. As a result, they've taken control of the series, establishing a three-games-to-two lead after falling in a 0-2 hole with back-to-back losses at TD Garden to open the series.
Now, Montreal faces elimination and must find a way to win at the Bell Centre, something it could not do in Game 3 or 4. If not, the Canadiens will be sent packing and lose a playoff series against Boston for just the ninth time in 33 series.
"Well it's going to be tough in Montreal, that's for sure," Boston forward Michael Ryder said. "We played those two games up there and I think we played well to get those wins. It's always tough to win in that building. I played in Montreal and I know what it’s like.
"And for another team to come in and win three games is going to be tough, but we just have to make sure we do the same things we did there and that we did [in Game 5] and not change anything and have to do what we did like when we were down 2-0 and make sure we come out hard and set the tone early."
Boston has seemingly found a system in which it can battle Montreal on even footing.
For Boston to be successful, it needs to get the puck deep, get in on the forecheck and punish Montreal’s defense and try to create turnovers in the neutral zone.
The Bruins have shown signs of those tenets in each of their three wins, but really put the package together in Game 5. For much of the game, Montreal had trouble generating offense off the transition and made several crucial turnovers in the neutral zone. Boston's first line -- center David Krejci and wings Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton -- were masters at this formula in Game 5 and used it to score the winning goal midway through the second overtime.
"Well, I mean we were chipping away all game long it seemed like," said Lucic, who got his first assist of the series on the game-winner. "I don't know what it is, these last 15 games I just, for myself, whenever I get a scoring chance it seems like it's not going in. But for sure we definitely didn't get frustrated and it was almost like when we had the opportunity in overtime we wanted to do whatever we could to step up and contribute to this team.
"It's obviously great that we were able to create that goal. And you definitely don't want to be satisfied. You want to keep pushing for more and contributing."
The question for Montreal becomes how does it overcome the twin disappointments of losing Game 5 in double OT -- especially after having the win on the sticks of its two best players in the OT sessions and coming up empty -- and blowing a 2-0 lead in this series.
"We can't sit there and feel sorry for ourselves," defenseman Hal Gill
said. "We played a hard game and it didn’t work our way. We have to come back and get a win the next one."
There are several areas the team will have to address before it can even think about winning Game 6 and forcing a Game 7 on Wednesday. The team was too sloppy with the puck in its own end for much of the night and also allowed Boston to cycle as much as it has in this series and dominate offensive-zone possession for long stretches.
In fact, if not for the brilliance of Carey Price
, who made 49 saves in Game 5, the Canadiens might have never reached overtime.
Yet, Montreal has 48 hours to find answers and few coaches are better than Jacques Martin at making in-series adjustments. So despite the profound disappointment of losing Game 5, as well as control of the series, Montreal insists it will be ready for Game 6.
"Timmy Thomas made some great saves; Carey made some great saves," forward Mathieu Darche
said after Game 5. "It was (one of) the lower-scoring games of the series, but it is probably the game with the most chances, both sides. We have to build on the positive. Every game in the playoffs is a learning experience and we have to think about Game 6."
Despite never having played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before this spring, Horton has scored in two of the past three games, including the game-winner in Game 5. Grinding winger Brad Marchand scored his first playoff goal to give Boston a 1-0 lead and was one of Boston’s most effective players in Game 5. Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has come alive since being paired with Zdeno Chara in Game 4. He was a dominant defenseman in Game 5 and ate huge minutes for the Bruins.
did not score in Game 5, his first scoreless game of the series, but had several prime chances, including a shot that had to be stopped by both Chara and Patrice Bergeron to keep it from going into the net. Despite the loss, Price played his best game of the series. His 49-save performance was a classic.
While Boston appears to be relatively healthy, Montreal is dealing with some injury problems for Game 6. Defenseman James Wisniewski
suffered an injury in Game 5 and missed almost all of the third period before returning to take a regular shift in OT. He did, however, labor through much of the two overtime periods. Forward David Desharnais
injured his knee in Game 5 and did not play after the second period. If he can't go, Benoit Pouliot
will likely re-enter the fray.
Boston's power-play has been atrocious in this series, going 0-for-14. In fact, there have been several man-advantage situations in this series in which Boston hasn't even managed a meaningful chance.
"It's been an ongoing battle all year," coach Claude Julien said. "I'm not going to stand here and lie and pretend it's not an issue. It is an issue and I think the players know it's an issue. And at one point it becomes a situation where it becomes either a lack of confidence, or there is a lot of stress when they go out on the power play.
"They know what it represents and where the challenges have been. Somehow we have to find a way to overcome that, and you hope it's going to happen soon. But that's been an ongoing challenge from our team all year and it's something that we have to continue to try to resolve."
led all players in ice time in Game 5 with 40:38 during 50 shifts. For the series, Subban has played an average of 29:32 per game.
"We know it's going to be really tough going into their building, and it's always very hard to play there, especially do-or-die in the last game," Marchand said. "The last game is always the toughest one to get. We saw it last year with Philly. So we just have to make sure that we’re ready. They're going to come out really hard and we have to match that. We didn't do that last time we were in Montreal, and they dominated us first period. So we just have to make sure we have a good start."
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #6
The Numbers Game - April 23, 2011