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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Lightning #6

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MIND THE GAP: Much has been made about the difficulty of rallying back from a three-game deficit, but after winning Game 5, the Habs now find themselves in much more familiar territory. The Canadiens have trailed a series 3-2 on 31 different occasions in franchise history and have gone on to win eight of those best-of-seven matchups, including three of the last five times they’ve found themselves in that situation. In two of those recent series, in 2010 and 2014, the Canadiens’ comeback effort resulted in a trip to the Conference finals.

ALL SQUARED: The Canadiens and Lightning have played an incredibly even series through five second round games so far, and despite an early 0-3 deficit, the Habs now have the chance to even the series on Tuesday. With a pair of 6-2 outings going either way, and the remaining three games being decided by just a single goal, the Canadiens have lit the lamp 12 times to the Bolts’ 13 so far. Prior history also suggests that fans are in for another nail-biter on Tuesday, as Montreal holds a 17-16 record (0.51) in Game 6s on the road, outscoring their hosts 81-80 (+1) while Tampa is 2-2 (0.50) in Game 6s at home, having been outscored by their visitors 15-12 (-3).

IT’S QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY: The Habs don’t always score on the power play, but when they do, they make it count. A lot of ink has already been spilled about the Canadiens’ relative inefficiency with the man advantage during the regular season (16.5%), but the truth is the Habs have been quietly using the power play to their advantage when it comes to the column which matters most: wins. Boasting a 20-9 record during the 2014-15 campaign when scoring at least one power play goal, the Canadiens are now a perfect 2-0 when doing the same this postseason.

FUTURE RETURNS: Acquired by general manager Marc Bergevin either just before, or at the 2015 NHL trade deadline, Habs newcomers Devante Smith-Pelly, Jeff Petry, Torrey Mitchell, and Brian Flynn have proven their worth this postseason since rounding out the roster down the stretch. Combining for just 11 points over 62 collective games in Montreal to end the regular season, the quartet have since picked up 14 playoff points over 39 combined games in just under two rounds of postseason play. Each already finding the back of the net at least once this spring, the group has also more than doubled its average points-per-game production from 0.177 to 0.358.

THE CALM DURING THE STORM: Vezina, Hart, and Ted Lindsay Trophy finalist Carey Price has compiled an impressive record in elimination games to date, and will be looking to build on that record once again come Tuesday. Just like the Amalie Arena astronaut’s moves were unable to rattle the All-Star netminder, you can bet the pressure from a third-consecutive do-or-die game won’t either. Since making his Canadiens debut, Price has posted a 0.931 save percentage in games with no tomorrow, while also registering a pair of shutouts over that span. Add his three elimination games with Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics (0.985) to that total, and his number climbs to 0.942. Futhermore, since winning Olympic Gold in 2014, Price has allowed just four goals over the four NHL elimination games he has played, winning each with an incredible combined 0.961 save percentage.


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