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A familiar script

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Could the third time be a charm for the death-defying Habs?

With a perfect 5-0 record in do-or-die games this spring, including three wins over the Caps in Round 1 and two more versus the Penguins in Round 2, the Canadiens will now get another chance to cheat death.
With 3-1 and 3-2 comebacks already in the bank this spring, the Habs are just following the improbable story line they’ve written during the 2010 Playoffs. With logic and heaps of statistical evidence suggesting otherwise, the Canadiens somehow have earned the right to not be written off quite yet.
“We have to stay positive,” said Tomas Plekanec. “They need four wins to win this series, not three. We’ve done it before and we still believe in our ourselves. We just need to win three games in a row.”
No Plekanec hasn’t lost his marbles, he’s just been paying attention to the miracles he and the Habs have pulled off in recent weeks.
Now looking to join the 2003 Minnesota Wild as the only teams to erase a pair of 3-1 deficits in one playoff year, the Canadiens know they let a golden chance to simplify their lives considerably slip through their hands by dropping Game 4 on home ice.
“Give them credit, they stayed really disciplined and didn’t let us get back in the game,” said Michael Cammalleri.  “They played well and won more battles than we did. We just need to be better, but I don’t have an explanation or any excuses for you guys.”
Never one to sugarcoat a situation, Cammalleri knows he and his teammates let one get away in Game 4.
“Our execution just wasn’t where it needed to be,” pinpointed Cammalleri. “It was just poor all around, especially in that second period.”
With one shot to show for 20 minutes of hockey, the second period of Saturday’s game was on the still on the mind of every player in the Habs’ dressing room.
“That period really shifted the momentum and we just couldn’t get it back,” agreed Brian Gionta. “We just weren’t in sync out there and then we started pressing and got away from our game plan. We know what we need to do to beat these guys. We proved that in Game 3, but we just didn’t do it today.”
Shutout three times in four games in this series and all too accustomed to being prematurely pronounced dead by opponents and experts this spring, the Canadiens will now have to revive their playoff pulses one more time.
Do they have enough left in the tank? Is there little more magic left in Jaroslav Halak’s glove hand or Cammy’s stick? The Flyers as well as Habs fans will have to wait until Monday night in Philadelphia to find that out, or take one look in the league’s top playoff scorer’s eyes when the last few reporters were about to leave his stall.
 “We’ve played our best hockey in these situations,” reminded Cammalleri. “And here we go again.”

Manny Almela is a writer for

See also:
The Numbers Game - May 22, 2010 
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