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Canadiens must get dirty to get a goal

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Canadiens must get dirty to get a goal
The Montreal Canadiens realize they are going to have to do some dirty work in front of the net to solve Flyers goalie Michael Leighton.
MONTREAL -- After 120 minutes of coming up empty, the Montreal Canadiens know what they need to do in order to solve Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton.

Their first goal of the series likely won't come on a breakaway, or an odd-man rush. Judging by how Leighton looked in Games 1 and 2, it won't come on an unscreened slap shot from 50 feet out.

Instead, it's going to take a dirty one. Someone wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge is going to have to be willing to pay the price in front of the net and either set up a screen and redirect a shot or knock home a loose puck from no further than five feet away.

Perhaps then, the goals will come in bunches. But there's little doubt that first one will likely result in a bruise or two that will be suffered right in front of the net.

It's those sacrifices the Canadiens need to make when this series resumes at the Bell Centre Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS). Montreal trails 0-2 in the series and was outscored 9-0 in Philadelphia.

"Occasionally, you get the nice goal, but it's usually throwing pucks at the net, traffic, he doesn't see it and it ricochets off a couple of bodies. That's playoff hockey. Those are the pretty goals in the playoffs." -- Josh Gorges

"If it's one of those ugly ones -- off (a rear end) or deflected off one of their guys, we'll take it," defenseman Josh Gorges said at the team's practice facility Wednesday. "They usually aren't (pretty) in the playoffs. Occasionally, you get the nice goal, but it's usually throwing pucks at the net, traffic, he doesn't see it and it ricochets off a couple of bodies. That's playoff hockey. Those are the pretty goals in the playoffs."

One has to wonder if the Canadiens can just get that first one against Leighton -- who has a .969 save percentage in the playoffs and hasn't allowed a puck to get past him in 165:50 -- if the flood gates will then open.

Only one way to find out.

"You've got to give him credit," forward Brian Gionta said of Leighton, who replaced injured Brian Boucher during Game 5 of Philadelphia's second-round series against the Boston Bruins. "We just need to do a better job of working and getting those second and third opportunities and try to get it past him."

The Canadiens were denied those multiple chances in Games 1 and 2. The quality chances they did get were all denied by Leighton, who was allowed to see the shots as they were coming at him. If Montreal -- which is 0-for-8 on the power play thus far -- is to cut this series deficit in half, that needs to change on Thursday night.

"Traffic helps," said Mike Cammalleri, who has been held to five shots in the first two games after scoring 12 times in the first two rounds. "I've still yet to meet a goalie who likes to be screened. I think we've got to bear down a little bit more on our chances to make sure that we're making it hard for him to make saves. We'd like to challenge him a little bit more."

Should the Canadiens do that and score within the first 10 minutes of the game to take the lead for the first time in this series, it could change the entire complexion of this series. It would show the capacity crowd at the Bell Centre that there is still plenty of hockey to be played in this town. It also would show everyone that Leighton is human.

"It would give us confidence to know that he's not invincible ... it's not impossible to score on him," Gorges said. "Your mindset changes. If you get the lead, they're going to change a little bit, too. We haven't put them in a position where they have to force it to try and score. They've had the lead the entire series. We have to have a big start -- try to get that early lead."

The Canadiens spent Wednesday trying to figure out how turn this thing around, and quickly. The phrase "we have to make adjustments" was used by everybody, from coach Jacques Martin to Gionta to defenseman Hal Gill. But talk is cheap. It's time for the Canadiens to put on their hard hats and go to work.

It's time to get dirty.

"We've got to come out and lay it all the line tomorrow," Gorges said. "We've got to dig down and we've got to be resilient and keep pushing and fighting our way into the tough areas."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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