- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday morning ahead of hosting Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
- The entire team was present for the game day skate which lasted just under 30 minutes, including defenseman Nathan Beaulieu who practiced with his teammates for the first time since suffering an injury in Round 1.
- Michel Therrien confirmed following practice that Beaulieu has been cleared to play, but would not say whether the 22-year-old rearguard will be in uniform for Game 5.
“He had a really good second half of the season and played well in the series against Ottawa,” noted the Habs bench boss on what Beaulieu could possibly bring to the lineup. “We like the way he moves the puck.”
During the morning skate, Beaulieu practiced alongside Tom Gilbert, while Gilbert’s most recent defensive partner, Greg Pateryn, skated with Sergei Gonchar.
- Buoyed with confidence after a convincing 6-2 win on Thursday which followed a pair of one-goal decisions in Game 1 and Game 3, the Canadiens know that the current 3-1 series deficit doesn’t tell the entire story against Tampa.
“I really liked the way we played in Game 4 and Game 3, I liked the start we had during Game 2, and I obviously liked the way we played in Game 1,” admitted Therrien, who has seen his squad outshoot the Lightning through every game so far this round. “I’m expecting the same type of hockey game tonight. The players are focused, and ready to play hard.”
Despite lighting the lamp six times in Game 4, the Habs are nevertheless taking caution to prepare for a tighter affair on Saturday.
“It was nice to get some breaks [on Thursday]. The only difference between Game 3 and Game 4 is that we scored on all of our chances in Game 4. You can say it was the hockey gods, but we worked for all of our bounces,” underlined Dale Weise, who picked up an assist in the most recent winning effort. “That’s what we’ve got to do tonight. It’s going to be hard, and I don’t expect it to be another high scoring game. I think it’s going to be tight-checking, and those are the games we’re suited for.”
- Although the Habs have never comeback to win a best-of-seven series after initially trailing 3-0, Thursday’s win puts the team in more familiar 3-1 territory, where they’ve had success in the past, notably against Boston and Washington in 2004 and 2010, respectively.
“It hasn’t happened before, but that’s not how we’re looking at it. We’re not thinking about winning four in a row, we’re thinking about winning the next game. We’ve moved on from Thursday,” described Brendan Gallagher, who scored the Canadiens’ fifth goal in Game 4, to bring his postseason tally to three. “We’re focused on tonight and we want to send the series back to Tampa and give ourselves a chance. We have to use the crowd to our advantage tonight and play strong for 60 minutes. Taking any shifts off will cost us.”
Finding themselves in the opposite situation from a series ago, when they led the Ottawa Senators 3-0 before clinching a semifinal berth in Game 6, the Habs meanwhile are also putting their experiences from Round 1 to good use.
“We were kind of in the same situation against Ottawa. We saw how Ottawa won one game and the ball got rolling. Then they won a second one in our building and we’re not as confident as we should be,” continued Weise. “That’s what we’re trying to draw on. We put some doubt in their mind on Thursday, but it’s only one game, so we have to come out strong again tonight and make them doubt themselves even more.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST in Montreal. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.