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MTL@BOS: Shut 'em down, gain some ground

The Habs are looking keep the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line in check as they attempt to close the gap on their divisional archrivals on Monday

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

BOSTON - The Canadiens roll into Boston on a mission to maintain their climb in the standings, and they'll have to fight off a deadly trio of forwards if they hope to do so.

Since December 17, the Bruins have won nine of their last 12 games and the line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak have offered up some serious offensive contribution to that end with a combined 40 points in that span.

What's more, facing those three on the road presents some extra challenges for Claude Julien and his troops.

"We don't have the last change, so it becomes a bit harder. That's why we need everyone to do the job against a line that scores a lot," shared the Habs head coach. "They're a team who's playing extremely well defensively. We're going to have to work hard and score goals. We also have to make sure we don't give up too many opportunities to that big line of theirs that scores most of their goals."

Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference @ BOS

Without that last change, Julien will indeed need to rely on his entire squad to get the job done against the Bruins' top trio, and that includes his fourth line consisting of Kenny Agostino, Michael Chaput, and Nicolas Deslauriers.

"He's one of the best centers in the League," Chaput said of Bergeron. "Every time I'm going to be on the ice against him or in the faceoff circle, I'll have to pay attention and do my best to beat him because we're going to need to get possession of the puck."

Video: Michael Chaput on his line's chemistry

Julien had rejigged his first three forward units ahead of Saturday's 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche - new combinations he kept intact at Monday's morning skate - but the Agostino-Chaput-Deslauriers trio had been left untouched in spite of all the mixing and matching.

"I think we're able to play some good minutes; we've seen it the last few games. We're playing 10-12 minutes every game and I think it's good for the other players, too. It allows them to play even harder when they're on the ice," explained Chaput, who has averaged 11:34 of ice time this season. "From our side, if we can provide some energy and score some goals, that for sure helps. But our primary goal is to eat some big minutes against the top lines."

As the season wears on, the importance of every game grows bigger and Monday's contest in Beantown is no exception: the Canadiens are just three points back of the Bruins - who currently sit in third place in the Atlantic - although Boston has a game in hand.

Video: Gallagher on the impact of the game in the standings

"We're aware. It seems like it's that way every night, where if you win, it's hard to make up ground, and if you lose, you fall back pretty quickly. Every team in this position right now is pretty desperate and they're not letting points slip away," explained Brendan Gallagher. "For us, it's going to be important to do the same thing and have that desperation level. It's going to be exciting, it's going to be a lot of fun to be a part of this push going down the home stretch. For us right now, we're starting to sense the urgency that each game is important. Especially tonight, when you're playing a team that is that close to you in the standings, the two points on the line mean a lot. It's going to be a fun game."

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