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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #3

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

DUE DATE: Since the puck first dropped to kick off the 2014-15 season, Carey Price has been a prime example of consistency in the NHL, earning him his rightful place among Hart and Vezina trophy talks. Case in point, throughout the current campaign, the All-Star netminder has yet to go more than five games without posting a shutout or filing a one-goal effort. Coming off a trio of three-goal outings followed by a two-goal night most recently then, Price may very well be due for a vintage outing at the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday...

GET SHORTY: There's no questioning the importance of power play goals when it comes to winning hockey games -- especially during the playoffs. During last season's Eastern Conference Final run, the man advantage accounted for nearly 25% of the Habs' total offensive output. While the same may hold true this year, not conceding on the power play has also been just as important as converting on it for the Habs and Sens. Through six games this regular season and postseason combined, Ottawa and Montreal have combined to score three shorthanded goals, including Lars Eller's Game 1 wrister most recently in the eventual 4-3 decision.

DOUBLE THREAT: When Michel Therrien called on Devante Smith-Pelly to join Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais on a line for Game 2, he was adding sandpaper and a scoring touch to the team’s top trio.  After leading the Ducks in both goals and hits in the 2014 postseason, the gritty winger has continued his stellar play in his first two playoff games as a Hab.  With five goals and one assist in 14 career playoff games, he also enters Game 3 with a career average of 4.43 hits per game, including nine in the series against the Sens to date, tied with Alexei Emelin for the team lead so far in that category.

DIGGING DEEPER: While falling behind 2-0 in a series is hardly a death sentence for an NHL team in the postseason, it hasn’t historically worked out well for the Senators. Ottawa has lost the first two games of a series on eight occasions in franchise history, and has never managed to rally back to win the best-of-seven matchup, going 0-for-8 in those circumstances and eventually being swept or losing in five games seven times.

NO PLACE LIKE ...?: Despite restricting ticket sales to the Ottawa region in an attempt to keep Habs fans at bay, home ice advantage is far from guaranteed for the Senators when the series shifts to the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday. Through 16 games so far during the 2015 postseason, 10 have been won by the locals, representing a 62.5% success rate for the home side, while Montreal and Anaheim are the only two teams to stay perfect in their respective buildings. Moreover, home ice has almost literally been neutral ice for the Senators in the playoffs, who historically, have split 60 postseason games 30-30 in the nation's capital, outscoring the opposition by a slim 147-141 margin.


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