- The Canadiens held an optional skate at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Wednesday morning ahead of contesting Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Lightning. Jon Cooper’s contingent leads the best-of-seven series two games to none.
- P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Tom Gilbert and Max Pacioretty were among those players who elected not to take part in Wednesday morning’s on-ice session.
- Centerman David Desharnais was back at practice alongside his teammates on Wednesday. The veteran pivot did not accompany the team on their charter flight to Tampa earlier in the week. He stayed behind in Montreal for precautionary reasons after coming down with the flu and missing Game 2 last Sunday night at the Bell Centre.
“I’m feeling better. I was at the morning skate on Sunday and I felt fine. But, when I got home, I started to feel sick and I went to the hospital. I did everything I could to play on Sunday, but I couldn’t,” offered Desharnais, who has two assists through seven postseason games in 2015. “I spent Monday and Tuesday recovering, and I feel like I can get back out there tonight.”
In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien indicated that Desharnais’ condition would be evaluated later in the day. His playing status would ultimately be confirmed prior to the start of Game 3.
“Whenever there’s a virus, you want to work with the team’s medical staff to make sure that the rest of the team doesn’t get sick. We took some precautions,” explained Therrien. “David looked pretty good this morning. I talked to him. He had some energy. We’ll see how he feels tonight.”
It’s safe to say Desharnais can’t wait to get the green light. The 28-year-old found it particularly tough to watch Game 2 from the sidelines.
“It was frustrating to see the guys play and not be able to help them. It’s always disappointing to miss a game,” admitted Desharnais. “That’s especially true in the playoffs because you’re battling all season long to get there. I’m happy to be here right now.”
- The Canadiens insist a couple of days off between games provided them with a good opportunity to take a step back and refocus heading into Game 3 on Wednesday night.
“It was good mentally and for physical rest. Playoffs has a really intense pace out there, but we’re prepared, we’re relaxed and we’ve got our heads in the right place. We’re excited about tonight and we can’t wait to get started,” explained Alex Galchenyuk, who is still looking for his first point in Round 2. “We’re all hungry. We know it’s a big game for us. It’s not always nice to be down 2-0, but we won a lot of games this year. You can’t think about coming here and tying the series. You’ve got to think about one game at a time. If we play the right way, we’re a tough team to beat.”
And, despite being down a pair of games, the Habs’ mentality entering Game 3 remains the same as before.
“I just think we came out with the right attitude in both games. We played at a very high pace where most of the time we were in Tampa’s zone. We made it difficult for them. That’s the game you want to play. That’s the game you’ve got to bring for 60 minutes,” stressed Lars Eller, who has one goal and two points in eight playoff games in 2015. “They played well on the road against us. This is just a change of scenery. The game is still the same. It’s just in a different place. We’ve just got to come out with the same attitude.”
- This playoff scenario marks the 26th time in team history that the Canadiens have found themselves down two games to none in a series. Unfortunately, the CH has only gone on to win those series on five occasions. The last time the Canadiens accomplished that feat was back in 2003-04 when they eliminated the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
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