- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning ahead of hosting Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
- Twenty-three players elected to hit the ice for the game day skate which lasted just under 45 minutes.
- Michel Therrien confirmed following practice that no changes will be made to the lineup for Game 2.
- Despite dropping Game 1 in double-OT, the was a lot to like about the Habs’ effort on Friday. Out-shooting, out-hitting, and even out-drawing the Lightning in the face-off circle, the Habs’ bench boss insists that staying the course will be the key to getting back on track on Sunday.
“It was a close game, but we still generated a lot of offense in Game 1. We had 29 scoring chances, which is excellent, but we’re facing goaltenders who are playing at the top of their games,” underlined Therrien, who saw just one of his team’s 44 shots beat Ben Bishop on Friday. “The players executed the game plan well, generating offense while limiting the number of chances against us.”
Backed by their own hot goaltender, Carey Price made 33 saves to start the Round 2 series, while his teammates in front of him blocked another 34 shots from ever reaching the net.
“I thought we did a lot of good things offensively and defensively. We’re playing against a high-powered offense and we did a good job of clogging up the middle of the ice, especially in the neutral zone,” agreed defenseman Tom Gilbert, who absorbed three shots over 25:35 of ice time. “If one or two of those shots [which hit the post] went in it would have been a different game for us, so we’re just going to stick with what we’re doing.”
- Although winning Game 1 has historically given teams an edge in going on to win a best-of-seven series, the Canadiens insist now’s not the time to panic.
“We’re taking things one game at a time, and I mean that,” confirmed Therrien. “We know it’s an important game – there’s no doubt about that – but that doesn’t change our philosophy in the room.”
In the 44 times the Habs have dropped the opening game of the series, they’ve come back to tie things up in Game 2 exactly 50% of the time, an encouraging sign heading into Sunday’s matchup.
“That’s playoffs. I think every game is huge no matter what the scenario is,” added Dale Weise, who nearly scored the Game-1-winner in double-OT. “We’re going into this one like it’s Game 1. We played well on Friday and we want to come out with the same start, get a win, and tie the series.”
- The Canadiens are facing a dangerous Lightning squad which lit the lamp 21 times against Montreal over five games during the regular season, but nevertheless limited Tampa to just two goals on Friday.
“If we’re going to keep them to just two goals every game, then I think we’re doing a good job and are going to have a chance to win,” acknowledged Weise. “We’re going to score some goals soon, […] so we’re feeling good about tonight.”
While the Canadiens were able to keep Steven Stamkos off the scoreboard in Game 1, Tyler Johnson has been the Bolts’ hot hand this postseason, leading the NHL with seven playoff goals, including one on Friday.
“He’s been a hot player for them. We just have to take his time and space away. He sees the ice well, he’s fast, and he’s skilled,” concluded Gilbert. “We’ve got to be aware when he’s on the ice.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. EST in Montreal. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.