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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #4

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

TOUGH CLIMB: The Senators made history this season by overcoming a 14-point deficit to clinch a spot in the postseason, but if they want to make it past the first round, they’ll have to overcome even longer odds. Only four teams in NHL history have been able to successfully rally from a three game deficit to win a best-of-7 series, an exclusive list that includes the 1942 Maple Leafs, the 1975 Islanders, the 2010 Flyers and the 2014 Kings. Making matters worse for Ottawa? Carey Price hasn’t lost four straight games since January 2014.

WEISE FOR THE WIN: When it comes to scoring big goals, few players know how to take things to the next level like Dale Weise. In 25 career postseason games, the gritty winger has five goals, three of which have been game winners. After scoring the overtime-clinching marker in Game 3, Weise now sits second on the team behind Sergei Gonchar and his seven winning tallies in 141 games for the most career playoff GWGs, ahead of Tomas Plekanec (2), Andrei Markov (2), Max Pacioretty (2) and Alex Galchenyuk (2).

HITS DON’T LIE:  The Senators came out swinging in Game 3, dishing out a collective 61 hits to the Habs’ 36 on Wednesday night. Throwing their weight around more often than any other team in the postseason to date – to the tune of 158 total hits through three games – the Sens have tried upping the physical action in search of their first win of the series. Unfortunately for Ottawa, hits don’t always equal wins, evidenced by four of the five teams who finished in the Top 5 in the league in that category in the regular season failing to make the playoffs this spring.

FROM BUFFALO, WITH LOVE: Prior to the start of the 2015 postseason, most poolers and pundits wouldn’t have predicted that two of the Canadiens’ newest players would be leading the team in scoring three games into the playoffs. Arriving from an organization that finished last in the league in goals for in 2014-15, former Sabres forwards Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn have adapted nicely to their new scenery. Currently tied with P.K. Subban atop the Habs’ scoring leaderboard with one goal and two assists apiece in three postseason tilts, Mitchell and Flynn are also tied with perennial playoff performers like Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane in offensive production, and Mitchell is tied for second in the NHL with a plus-4 differential to date.

PLAYOFF PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: Giving up the first goal every night might not be a recipe for success, but keeping calm and carrying on when down early definitely is. Although the Sens have opened the scoring in all three games against the Habs so far in Round 1, Montreal currently leads the series 3-0. The Winnipeg Jets also happen to have opened the scoring three times in their series against the Ducks -- a series which they likewise trail three games to none -- proof of the adage that it’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish.


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