BOSTON – There’s a reason no one grows up dreaming of scoring the winning goal in Game 54 of the regular season.
The Canadiens have been through plenty of elimination games in the past two postseasons. Down 3-1 in their first round series against the President’s Trophy winners last April, the Habs rallied back to win three-straight do-or-die games. One round later, they did it all over again, erasing a 3-2 series deficit to oust the then-defending Stanley Cup champs. About to take part in his third Game 7 in four playoff series in Montreal, Travis Moen
feels a familiar story line building in Boston.
“The approach is no different than it was last game,” explained Moen of his team’s 2-1 win over the Bruins to force Wednesday’s Game 7. “We knew our backs were against the wall in Game 6 and we came out and had a great game and Carey made some big saves for us. We have to come out tonight and do the same thing.”
The architect of the 2007 Stanley Cup-winning goal for Anaheim, Moen is no stranger to high pressure situations. But despite owning a perfect 2-0 record in Game 7s in his career, the 29-year-old winger still feels the same butterflies he did while imagining this moment on his outdoor rink in Stewart Valley, SK.
“I don’t know if you’re ever comfortable. It’s a pretty intense time of the year but we thrive on that,” admitted Moen, who scored a shorthanded goal against the Penguins in his most recent Game 7 tilt last spring. “It’s still tough to go to sleep; you’re on edge and nobody wants to go home.
“You want to move on to the next round and the next city and all 20 guys on our team are trying to fight for that,’ he continued. “It seems like guys raise their levels and we’ve had great goaltending – there’s lots of pressure but I believe in our guys that we can do it.”
Fresh off earning a championship ring of his own with the Blackhawks in 2010, Brent Sopel can still taste the celebratory champagne he sipped from the Cup last June. Although he and the ‘Hawks never faced elimination during their run to the Finals, the 34-year-old blue-liner still managed to carry over one of the biggest lessons he learned in Chicago.
“You have to realize where you are and enjoy it. This is fun,” stressed Sopel, who has two assists in three career Game 7 opportunities. “Coming into the season if they said ‘You’re going to be playing in Game 7 in the first round’, you’d take it. Obviously we all know what the outcome could be: we could be going home or we could be moving on. You’ve got to enjoy it or you’ll just hinder yourself.
“As a hockey player, you want to be part of games like this,” he added. “You have to just take advantage of it – go out there, soak in the crowd, have fun, relax and enjoy your time on the ice.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSOGameday commentsHabs, Bruins prepare for Game 7 Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #7 Spring King