MONTREAL - No stranger to staging comebacks during the regular season, the Canadiens are going to need some of that same magic early on in the playoffs, too.
That's because Claude Julien's troops now find themselves in the unenviable position of being just one loss away from elimination after dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, which the Blueshirts now lead three games to two.
It was Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad who sent the Bell Centre faithful home disappointed on Thursday night after he lit the lamp behind Carey Price at the 14:22 mark of the extra frame to secure the all-important victory for Alain Vigneault's club.
Video: MTL Recap: Gallagher, Lehkonen score in Game 5 loss
First-period goals by Artturi Lehkonen and Brendan Gallagher simply weren't enough to keep the Rangers from stealing home-ice advantage right back with Game 6 set for Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on Saturday night.
Now that their season really is on the line, the Canadiens' mindset entering the next installment of the series is rather straightforward - and with good reason.
"Just worry about one game at a time," said captain Max Pacioretty, who accounted for five of the Canadiens' 36 shots on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in Game 5. "We've got to tune out all this noise. There's nothing really we can do about this now. We've got to be disappointed that it was an opportunity blown, but excited at a big challenge that we can show our character here."
Video: Max Pacioretty on the OT loss in Game 5
Gallagher stressed a similar approach to the upcoming tilt as well, one that will either prolong the 2016-17 campaign and force Game 7 next Monday night in Montreal, or mark the start of another offseason break.
"We're going into a situation here where we're going to learn a lot about our group," said Gallagher, who notched his first goal of the postseason in the loss. "We're going to learn the type of character we have. If you don't have character, this is the time where you're going to doubt yourself. If you have character, this is the time where the belief is going to come out of your group. We'll see what we have, but I'm pretty confident in the guys we have here."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on the Canadiens' character
As is Julien, who since taking over behind the bench in mid-February, has seen his group demonstrate an impressive knack for fighting back and finding ways to come out on top in the end.
"If I didn't have confidence in my team, I'd have no business being here," said Julien. "I believe in this team because they've showed that they can come from behind. Now's their chance to show it again."
To give themselves the best possible chance to extend the series, though, Julien insists that contributions up and down the lineup are of primordial importance. He's convinced that certain members of his group can and must deliver come Saturday night.
"To overcome this [deficit], we'll need more from a lot of guys. Now's the time to stand up and take our game up a notch, be confident and have the desire to win," insisted Julien. "When you lose a game and you're down 3-2, you can't be satisfied as a team. We know that certain guys can give us more and we're hoping that will happen."