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With season on the line, Cammalleri excels

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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With season on the line, Cammalleri excels
Rallying to the Montreal Canadiens' rescue is nothing new to Mike Cammalleri as 6 of his 13 goals have been season savers.
PHILADELPHIA -- Elimination games bring out the best in the Montreal Canadiens. They especially bring out the best in forward Mike Cammalleri.

The Habs' prize signing last offseason has been sensational in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as 6 of Cammalleri's League-leading 13 goals have come when his team's season is on the line. His offense will be required again Monday night as the Canadiens attempt to stave off elimination in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

"I didn't know that," Cammalleri said when informed of his scoring output in elimination games. "But hopefully that continues because we're going to need three of those games here coming up. I don't really know what else to say about that."

Broad Street certainly hasn't been kind to the Canadiens in this series, as they were outscored 9-0 in the first two games. This time, though, they must fight to live another day. It marks the sixth time they find themselves in such a situation, and they haven't failed yet.

Unlike previous series, though, the Habs aren't returning to a building where they failed to score in back-to-back games. That needs to change if they plan on forcing a Game 6 in Montreal Wednesday night.

"You've got to score goals to win games," said Cammalleri, who has 19 points in 18 games this postseason. "We've done it one game in this series and haven't been able to in the others. We'll have to let it loose here a little bit and score some goals tonight."

Perhaps it's that loose mentality that has allowed the Canadiens to fight back in each of the previous two rounds? Montreal rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat Washington before eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They trailed 3-2 in that series.

"You go through a weird range of emotions with these games," Cammalleri said. "In a way, it's kind of liberating to just know that you can't sit here and worry that it could be your last game. You can't even think that way. You just go play."

Judging by what's transpired in the past, Cammalleri will be at the forefront if the Canadiens find a way to solve Michael Leighton and Philadelphia's stifling defense Monday night.

Montreal coach Jacques Martin is impressed by the way Cammalleri has stepped up for his team in previous elimination games.

"I wish we would feel this way and not have to be down 3-1. But it feels good to kind of just know that we can go out and play our game and not worry about the result. I think that's when we usually have good games." -- Mike Cammalleri

"I think Michael is an individual that's a perfectionist," Martin said. "He really works at his game. I think he enjoys the challenge of those games and has responded very well."

Another challenge stares Cammalleri and the Canadiens in the face on Monday night. Once again, it's win or go home. At least for Montreal, though, it's not unchartered territory.

"I think the experience undoubtedly helps us … knowing that we've been here before," Cammalleri said. "I would think that we expect to play a good game tonight.

"I wish we would feel this way and not have to be down 3-1. But it feels good to kind of just know that we can go out and play our game and not worry about the result. I think that's when we usually have good games."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL


Quote of the Day

It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential