MONTREAL – The Canadiens took the lead early on Tuesday night and held on right to the final buzzer.
Every spring, trends begin to emerge as the playoffs roll along and so far in 2014, the most common storyline across the league has been that of the blown two-goal lead. After building up a 3-1 cushion in Game 2 only to see it disappear in the last 10 minutes, the Habs became the 20th example of a team unable to close out a two goal lead so far this postseason. Heading into the third period on Tuesday night riding another 3-1 lead over the Bruins, the Canadiens weren’t about to make it 21.
“There’s enough leadership on this team to kind of grab the bull by the horns,” explained Carey Price, who was the night’s second star after stopping 26 of the 28 shots he faced. “I was living in the moment – those are the types of situations you want to be in. That’s exactly what you do when you dream as a kid, there’s no better way to put it.”
Despite Jarome Iginla making things interesting for the visitors with a great net-front tip with Tuukka Rask on the Boston bench for the extra attacker, the Habs were able to shut it down in the final two minutes to go up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. While the Bruins have been saving their best for last in the playoffs, having scored 13 of their 24 goals in third periods this spring, they weren’t able to rally back to tie it in Game 3 the way they did in the first two games of the series.
“I liked the way we played in the third period. That’s something we did well all year long, playing with the lead and making sure we finished the job,” mentioned Michel Therrien, whose team went 35-0-3 when leading after two periods in the regular season and served the Bruins their first loss in a Game 3 since 2009 to snap a 12-0 streak. “Tonight the guys were battling really hard, blocking shots and Carey made some key saves at the right time. It was a good team effort. What I really like is we have a business-like attitude. We approach the game with a business mindset.”
There’s no better example on the Canadiens’ bench of that all-business mentality than P.K. Subban, who is now third in the NHL scoring race behind Anze Kopitar and Zach Parise with 11 points in just seven playoff games in 2014. Showcasing poise and maturity beyond his 24 years, the reigning Norris Trophy winner has managed to skate through adversity this spring by harnessing his emotions and punishing his opponents where it matters most: the scoresheet. Putting his anger into action after getting called for roughing in the first period, Subban sprinted out of the box and deposited a perfect feed from Lars Eller into the back of the Bruins’ net.
“We’re playing well as a team and I’m just a beneficiary of the guys playing well around me,” stressed Subban, who earned first star honors after picking up a goal and an assist in his game-high 27:50 on the ice. “I’ve gotten opportunities, but my teammates are making good plays and guys are getting in front of the net. It’s easy to say you get a breakaway out of the penalty box but [Eller] made such a great pass. He did a little fake and put it right on my tape. I’ve got all the microphones in my face, but it’s a group effort. It’s not just me.”
With seven Habs factoring in on the scoresheet – including Dale Weise scoring his second game winner of the playoffs – all but two skaters registering at least one hit and four different players blocking four or more shots, Game 3 was a textbook example of the kind of team win the Habs have been preaching throughout the playoffs. While they may boast a lineup that includes a few bonafide superstars, the key to the Canadiens’ success so far has been getting contributions from everyone on the roster.
“It starts with our coaching staff making sure everybody is feeling confident and feeling good about themselves and we’re doing it together. It’s not one or two guys, it’s everybody,” underlined Subban. “It starts with Pricey on the ice, and from our defense to our forwards we’re sticking together. When we have adversity, we’re sticking together and doing the right things. As a player, it’s fun to play on a team where you know guys are going to support you whether you make a mistake or not.”
Having stolen home ice advantage away from the President’s Trophy winners thanks to Subban’s double overtime heroics at TD Garden in Game 1, the Canadiens are heading into Game 4 with a chance to force their longtime rivals into an elimination game heading back to Boston. He’s only in his fourth full NHL season, but Subban knows enough not to expect the Bruins to leave Montreal without a fight.
“I’ve been in different situations against this team and [it’s not over] until you win a series,” he warned. “I don’t believe in momentum. I believe that every game is important and every shift is important. They’re too good to talk about momentum and talk about who’s feeling good and who’s not. The next game is going to be the toughest game of the series for us and we have to be ready to play.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
SEE ALSO:Words from the roomBoxscoreGame highlightsThe Numbers Game - Game #3 - May 6, 2014 Playoff CentralHappy 22nd, Brendan Gallagher!