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Bruins try to pull even with Canadiens

by John Kreiser

(Montreal leads best-of-seven series 2-1)


Big story:
It's been a series dominated by the visiting teams thus far. Montreal won the first two games in Boston, but after a 4-2 victory at the Bell Centre on Monday, the Bruins can pull even with a victory.

Team scope:

Boston spent the two-day break in Lake Placid, N.Y., taking a two-day respite from all the playoff hoopla in Montreal. One of the biggest items on coach Claude Julien's checklist at practice has been to find some life in the power play, which has gone 0-for-11 and has struggled to get shots through against Montreal's determined penalty-killers.

"We need to get this thing going, and hopefully, better," Julien said after Wednesday's 75-minute practice. "But you also understand that in the playoff, PK seem to be trumping the power plays. We've done a pretty good job against Montreal. When you play a team over and over again, you find out the tendencies, so it's a little better than playing just one game and moving on to the next team during the regular season."

Canadiens: After being taken to the cleaners in the faceoff circle in the first three games of the series, the Canadiens are looking forward to the return of forward Jeff Halpern, who's been sidelined for the last seven games, including the first three in this series, with a lower-body injury.

Not only does Halpern lend a veteran presence and good defensive skills, he's also good on faceoffs.

"I'm starting to figure (Boston center) Krejci out a little bit," said Lars Eller, who took just two faceoffs in Game 3 as coach Jacques Martin elected to shift him on the fly more often than not. "But having Halpern there is a good safety to have."

Who's hot: Michael Cammalleri leads the Canadiens with 1 goal and 4 points in the three games. Goalie Carey Price has surrendered just 4 goals in three games. ... Boston's Patrice Bergeron has 1 goal and 3 points; he's also won 65.3 percent of his faceoffs.

Injury report: The Bruins sent forward Chris Kelly back to Boston on Wednesday to be checked for a possible facial fracture. If he can't play, rookie Tyler Seguin figures to play. Halpern's return would likely take Benoit Pouliot out of the lineup.

Star pack: The Bruins are still trying to defy history -- they are 0-for-26 when they fall behind 2-0 in best-of-seven series. The Canadiens have let a 2-0 series lead slip away four times.

Puck drop: Price criticized his teammates for not being ready to play in Game 3; Boston led 3-0 before the Canadiens scored.

Defenseman P.K. Subban agreed that the Canadiens have to be ready from the opening faceoff on Thursday.

"I just think that for us we weren't ready at the start of the game and that was the biggest problem," he said Wednesday. "So we've got to come out and find a way to get up and get ready to play right from the drop of the puck. You can't afford to get behind the eight-ball early, you've got to be ready to go right off the hop. They're a desperate team and we have to play desperate hockey this time."

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