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Game Day - Game 5 vs. Senators, April 24

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday in preparation for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.

- The Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that the lineup featured in Game 4 would remain intact for Game 5.

- There’s been a trend in this series that the Canadiens would very much like to end on Friday night, especially with a spot in Round 2 just one victory away. During the first four games of the series, the Senators have scored first every time, forcing the CH to fight for an equalizer. While the Habs are clearly comfortable playing catch-up, it’s something they’d like to avoid in Game 5.

“Obviously, a good start is important. We’d rather score the first goal than be chasing. That being said, we’ve show in the past that we can play from behind as well. Whatever happens, happens, but we’d like to come out hard and set the tone in our own building,” offered Lars Eller, who has one goal in the series. “The only thing that exists in our mind is the game tonight. We’re in a good position. We’re where we want to be right now. We have another game to end it, and we want to end it tonight.”

In an effort to score that all-important opening goal, the Canadiens can certainly count on the support of the Bell Centre faithful, who will surely be fired up to give the home team their unwavering support in an effort to break things open early. Lighting the lamp first would be the perfect way to create a hostile environment for the opposition.

“It’s definitely a tough building to play in. I think our job now is to get the fans in the game and try and get Ottawa to lose some momentum that way. It’s obviously an advantage playing in front of our home crowd, but it’s only that way if we get them involved in the game,” stressed Max Pacioretty. “It’s important to play with energy early on. That’s one way we can do that.”

- Since Craig Anderson took over in goal for the Senators in Game 3, goals have been hard to come by on both sides. Both teams have combined to score just four goals over the last two games. While Anderson boasts a 0.93 goals-against average, Carey Price checks in at 1.67. It’s safe to say we’re likely in for another goaltending duel on Friday night.

“Both goaltenders have played excellent hockey. When you look at the last two games, we’ve managed to score two goals and the Senators have done the same. There haven’t been a lot of goals scored. When scoring chances have come up, the goalies have been good and they’ve made the saves. It’s been really tight hockey,” mentioned Therrien, who will give Price his eighth straight start between the pipes. “You have to give credit to both teams for their defensive play, particularly over the last two games. We have one win and so do they. It’s tight hockey.”

- The NHL released its list of finalists for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night. While many people believed that Max Pacioretty or Tomas Plekanec might get the nod, that turned out not to be the case. Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews will ultimately vie for the award, which is presented to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

“Every team would like to see their players nominated. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec are two players who take a lot of pride in their defensive play. They deserved to be there, but it’s the same thing for most teams,” explained Therrien. “We can’t criticize the selection of those three guys, but there could have been others nominated, too.”

In addition to scoring 37 goals during the regular season, Pacioretty was equally strong on defense, registering a plus-38 differential. That tied him for top spot in the League in that particular category. The 26-year-old has one goal during the current playoff run, finding the back of the net in his first outing of the postseason back in Game 2.

“All of our players have similar responsibilities. You have to be responsible on the ice, whether you’re on offense or defense, whether you have the puck or you don’t. You know that Max wants to score goals. He feels good when he scores,” offered Therrien, who has featured Pacioretty on a line with David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly. “When he isn’t having success, he fights for it. The only pressure he should be feeling is making sure that he plays solid hockey, that he’s skating well and that he’s playing hard. Eventually, pucks are going to go in for him.”

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.

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