- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on Sunday morning ahead of contesting Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators.
- All players were present and accounted for at the morning skate, except for Lars Eller, David Desharnais and Tomas Plekanec, all of whom elected to take the option.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that the Canadiens will not feature any lineup changes in Game 3. The Canadiens’ bench boss also indicated that Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau is available for active duty after missing Game 2 with an upper-body injury.
- After going up against netminder Andrew Hammond in the first two games of the series, the Canadiens will have to solve a new goaltender in Game 3 as Craig Anderson will be between the pipes for Ottawa on Sunday night. Michel Therrien’s troops are quite familiar with the Senators starter, who managed to stymie the Canadiens when the two teams last met in the playoffs two years ago. Back then, the 33-year-old allowed just seven goals in five games, pacing the Senators to a 4-1 series victory.
“We all remember the last playoff series we played against him. He played very strong hockey for them. He gave them a chance to win. We expect the same thing. It’s just going to be important for us to get as many shots as we can, get bodies in front and create traffic. We always talk about doing it,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who boasts six goals and 14 points in 24 career playoff games. “He’s going to be excited. We have to make sure that he has to battle and that he has to compete. He’s going to play a good game.”
Like Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk says the key to beating any goaltender remains simply to put pucks on net at a steady pace. That’s really all there is to it.
“I actually skate with [Anderson] in the summer. Hopefully, I can beat him tonight. Our mindset is just to go out there and play our game. We basically want to play the same way we did the last two games,” explained Galchenyuk, who scored his second career game-winning goal in postseason play on Friday night, lifting the Canadiens to a 3-2 overtime win in Montreal. “I think [I know where to shoot on him]. You’re thinking about that stuff before the game. When you’re playing the game, things happen so quickly and you can’t really focus on that. As long as you get the puck to the net and you’re aggressive with the puck, that’s how you create scoring chances.”
- Senators bench boss Dave Cameron also plans to make one additional lineup change on Sunday night, opting to give tough guy Chris Neil a shot in place of Alex Chiasson. Neil hasn’t played since February 14 after suffering a thumb injury.
It’s safe to say Cameron’s decision to go with Neil up front – and Anderson in goal – really doesn’t affect the way the Canadiens plan to go about their business in Game 3.
“We’ve just got to focus on what we can control. That’s how we play. During the playoffs, there are going to be lineup changes and different things going on. You’ve just got to focus on the things that have been getting you success,” stressed P.K. Subban, who has one goal and three points through the first two games of the series. “Right now, it’s just about playing our game and making sure that we’re sharp.”
That will be especially important on Sunday night as the Canadiens look to take a stranglehold on the series in what should be a rather hostile environment.
“They’re going to play desperate hockey. We know that they’re excited to be back home. They’re a team that’s kind of been in this situation all year. They’re definitely still going to have that confidence and that belief in themselves, so it will be on us to play a solid road game and not give them too much momentum,” explained Gallagher, who leads the Canadiens with 10 shots on goal in the series. “This whole series has been about competing and battle level. I don’t think it’s going to change tonight. If we’re not prepared to do those things, we’re not going to get the result that we want.”
- The Canadiens announced that six members of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs have been recalled to serve as the “Black Aces” for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The recalled players include forwards Daniel Carr, Charles Hudon and Christian Thomas, defensemen Darren Dietz and Brett Lernout, as well as goaltender Mike Condon. The players will travel to Montreal on Monday and practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard starting on Tuesday.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
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