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Back to the Bell Centre

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

KANATA – The Habs would have liked to close out the Sens on Wednesday, but now they’ll get the chance to do it in front of the home crowd.

For the fourth time this series a game between the Canadiens and Senators was been decided by the slimmest of margins, only this time it was Ottawa that came out on top.

“It’s just another one-goal game, but this one happened to go their way. It wasn’t much different from the others,” described Max Pacioretty of the 1-0 effort in which Mike Hoffman’s third-period tally was the difference. “They’re a strong hockey team, and you can’t win every game against a team like that. We didn’t show our best in the third when we had a chance to close it out. They played a good game and so did their goalie – you’ve got to give him credit as well.”

Indeed, Craig Anderson’s performance on the ice was matched only by that of Carey Price, who filed another stellar effort in the loss, notably making a trio of back-to-back saves in the third to give the Habs a shot at what would have been a first-ever fourth-straight comeback win in the NHL playoffs.

“We’re comfortable playing in these types of games, but we didn’t generate the chances we wanted to tonight. They played desperate hockey. They really stifled us this time,” admitted the All-Star netminder who stopped 31 shots on the night, including 11 in the third. “Anderson played well. You can’t be too hard on yourself in a game like that. Now we just need to find a way to score and get it done at home.”

That sentiment was echoed by Brandon Prust, who had arguably the Habs’ best chance of getting on the board in Game 4.

“We had our chances and they had theirs, but we didn’t play our best hockey in the third. We kind of went flat and were on our heels the whole time,” acknowledged the 31-year-old winger who skated in all alone on Anderson, just nearly missing the game’s opening goal on a play which looked to have the Ottawa netminder beat. “We’ve got to learn from that and make sure we come out playing a full 60 in Montreal.”

Despite the setback, the odds of advancing into the second round still sit well in the Canadiens’ favor, as the team has never lost a series it had originally led 3-0. The Habs are also perfect when up 3-1, holding a 28-0 record in those instances.

“I wanted to wrap it up tonight and not give them any life, but they got a bounce there,” continued Pacioretty.  “We’ve got to have that killer instinct next game because they’ve got a gutsy group that’s going to battle hard until the very end.”

While it was hard to hide the feelings of a missed opportunity on Wednesday – which happened to be the one-year anniversary of last season’s first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning – the Habs now get a second shot at the Sens with a rare Friday night home date, a situation in which the team has gone 9-2 all-time in the postseason.

“We’re disappointed any time we lose a game. When the series shifted to Ottawa, we came in focused on getting the first win, and then were even hungrier for the second. As a whole though, winning one out of two in a tough building is still a good result,” underlined the Habs bench boss, who has won 13 of 21 playoff games since 2014. “The good news is now we’ll go back home and have the energy of our crowd behind us. We’re all excited for Friday.”

Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com

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