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Playoff Notebook: May 10

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

TAMPA – In Sunday’s playoff notebook, Lars Eller talks big game experience, Devante Smith-Pelly outlines the team’s belief level and Michel Therrien has high praise for his team’s play in the D zone, led by All-Star netminder, Carey Price.

DO OR DIE: The Canadiens have made a habit of coming out swinging when their season has been on the line over the last few years, and so far 2015 has been no exception. Currently owning an 11-4 record when facing elimination since 2010, the Habs have erased 3-1 and 3-2 series deficits three times in the last six postseasons. Having rallied back from a 3-2 hole against the Bruins just last spring, the Canadiens can draw on some recent history when looking for inspiration in their current quest to force a Game 7 against the Lightning.

“I think for all the guys who were here then, it was probably one of the most emotional and, personally, most satisfying series to come out of and win,” admitted Lars Eller of the Boston comeback that saw the Habs earn a spot in the Eastern Conference finals in 2014. “It was special for all of us who were here. You take that experience with you into this series, which has become emotional as well. We’ve been down 3-2 before against very good teams and we’ve been able to turn it around. It certainly can’t hurt you.”

NOT DONE YET: When Devante Smith-Pelly wired a wrister past Ben Bishop on Saturday night to open the scoring, he not only scored his first of the 2015 postseason, he also scored what he admitted was probably the biggest goal of his NHL career to date. The 16th Hab to light the lamp this spring, Smith-Pelly explained that part of the way the Habs plan on becoming just the fifth team to erase a three-game deficit to win a series in NHL history is by believing there’s no reason they can’t.

“We met after that third game and we all kind of spoke up and we all talked and everyone was really positive. Everyone genuinely believes we can do something special, regardless of our situation at that point,” shared Smith-Pelly, who also co-led the team with five hits on Saturday night. “Everyone had a hand in speaking up and having something to say. [The key is] not getting too high. We haven’t really done anything yet. We still have some work to do.”

SHUT ‘EM DOWN: Averaging 2.24 goals-against per game throughout the regular season, the Canadiens earned their spot atop the Atlantic division by playing sound defensive hockey. While Michel Therrien was happy to see his offense come out firing in a 6-2 effort in Game 4, he was more encouraged by his team’s ability to limit the Lighting to just three goals over the last two games.

“We take a lot of pride in being a good defensive team with a good forecheck. Statistically, we tied the Blackhawks for first in the NHL in goals against. I like our play in the defensive zone and I like the commitment our forwards have to playing the system,” explained Therrien, whose team has outshot the Lightning in every game so far this series. “We believe we can have a lot of success in the playoffs as a good defensive team that takes advantage of scoring chances. That’s what we did in Game 4 and in Game 5. And I expect Carey Price to be Carey Price. A lot of players, they like that type of pressure, they like to play those games. He’s one of them. He made some key saves for us.”

Conference call audio: Eller & Smith-Pelly, Therrien
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