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Canadiens seek spark to extend series with Rangers

Monday, 05.26.2014 / 5:08 PM
Sean Farrell  - NHL.com Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien expects his friendship with New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault will return to normal soon enough. He just hopes it isn't too soon.

The opposing coaches in the Eastern Conference Final crossed paths prior to the Rangers' 3-2 overtime win Sunday at Madison Square Garden that gave New York a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

Television cameras caught Vigneault lowering the passenger window of his car to speak with Therrien, who smiled.

"When I saw him coming I said I made sure to move away, and so what I told him was that I didn't want him to hit me, and he laughed about it," Therrien said Monday after the Canadiens held an optional practice at their suburban practice facility. "I thought it was funny."

There isn't a lot to laugh about in Montreal leading into Game 5 on Tuesday at Bell Centre (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The Canadiens face the task of having to win three straight games against the Rangers if they hope to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993, when they won their NHL record 24th championship.

"Well, we're not giving up," said Montreal left wing Rene Bourque, one of 13 players to take part in the optional practice. "I think we played our best game of the series [Sunday], so it's just one game at a time. We're at home. We've got to come out good and get this game and take the next one after that, but it starts [Tuesday] and first period and having a good start."

The Rangers are one win away from the Final, the closest they've been since they last made it in 1994, when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the Cup for the first time in 54 years.

Montreal captain Brian Gionta remains among the members of the 2009-10 Canadiens who overcame a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Presidents' Trophy champion Washington Capitals in the opening round of the playoffs.

"Well, the guys that were here, you remember the situations and you remember the feelings that you had, and at no point in that series did we feel that we were out of it, and the same holds true now," Gionta said. "We believe in the team that's in here and we believe that we can win this series."

The Canadiens swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round before overcoming a 3-2 series deficit against the Boston Bruins to win their second-round series in seven games.

Montreal went 8-for-25 on the power play on its way to dispatching the Presidents' Trophy-winning Bruins. P.K. Subban's power-play goal two minutes into the third period Sunday was the Canadiens' only one in eight opportunities in Game 4, including one early in overtime. The Canadiens are 1-for-17 so far against the Rangers.

Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec wasn't concerning himself with what the New York penalty killers were doing to stymie Montreal's attack.

"I don't know, we more look at what's on our side of the power play," Plekanec said. "We need to make those adjustments that are necessary. I think we did a little bit after the second period and it worked, so hopefully we can carry it on to the next game."

Montreal successfully killed each of New York's five power-play opportunities during the two games at Madison Square Garden after allowing four goals in the Rangers' 10 opportunities with the man-advantage in the first two games at Bell Centre, including three in Game 1.

"That's definitely one of the things that can help us to get the momentum a little bit in the game and we definitely can be better at that aspect, whether it's the power play or penalty killing, both," Plekanec said. "If we're going to be good at that, we have a better chance for sure."

Injured goalie Carey Price took to the ice for a solo skate Monday before the optional practice. He sustained a suspected right knee injury in the series opener when Rangers forward Chris Kreider crashed into him with his skates first after driving in on a breakaway.

Price was wearing goalie skates and a brace on the right knee of his training suit as he worked out with a hockey stick and a pair of gloves.

"Well you know he's not going to play, like I said before," Therrien said. "He's not going to play in this series, and just that it's part of the rehab. That's all. It's a great sign."

Goalie Dustin Tokarski is expected to make a fourth straight start after getting the Canadiens to overtime in each game in New York, including a 3-2 win in Game 3 on Thursday.

"He's played extremely well for us," Gionta said. "He gave us a chance to win [Sunday] night, and some of the big saves he made were the reason why we were in that game still."

Montreal will be trying to avoid being closed out and swept in three straight at Bell Centre, where they lost the first two games by a combined score of 10-3.

Therrien, who succeeded Vigneault in his first tenure as the Canadiens' coach in 2000, downplayed the gamesmanship that has ratcheted up the tension during the series. The coaches had opposing perspectives on an incident during a Montreal practice between the games at Madison Square Garden when Therrien had a few Rangers assistant coaches removed from the stands.

"You know what, like I said before the series, and what I said [Sunday], I've got tons of respect for Alain Vigneault but right now we're competing for the same thing," Therrien said. "We want our teams to participate in the Stanley Cup Finals, so he's doing everything that he can to prepare his team and I'm trying to do the same thing. And it's nothing personal. It's nothing personal. We both respect each other and when the series will be over, it's going to be over."

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