The Montreal Canadiens have some extra time to come up with a winning game plan against the Tampa Bay Lightning in their Eastern Conference Second Round series.
Coach Michel Therrien has until Wednesday to figure out how to end the Canadiens' seven-game losing streak against the Lightning. Montreal hasn't defeated Tampa Bay since it completed a four-game sweep in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs; the Lightning won all five games in the regular season and the first two of this series.
"We understand we're in a tough position right now," Therrien said on a conference call from Tampa on Monday. "This is not the perfect scenario and this is certainly not something that we anticipate, but we showed a lot of character through the course of the season. We've got a lot of adversity, and the one thing that I respect about my team is that they always respond the right way, and we've got to take one game at a time and our main focus is going to be on Wednesday night."
That's when Game 3 will be played at Amalie Arena. Montreal traveled Monday and will practice Tuesday.
Center David Desharnais did not make the trip south with the Canadiens. He was a late scratch Sunday for Game 2 because of the flu and is day-to-day; Therrien did not rule him out for Wednesday.
"Before I take any decisions regarding the lineup, I need to find out if David's going to be available to play, and when we have an answer, we're going to be able to focus on the lineup," Therrien said. "But right now, as you know, he's got a virus and he's day-to-day and there's a possibility that he'll be there Wednesday night, but we're not quite sure yet."
Work on special teams will be at the top of the Canadiens' practice agenda after the Lightning went 4-for-8 on the power play in a 6-2 win in Game 2 in Montreal on Sunday.
"First of all, we were a bit undisciplined," said defenseman Tom Gilbert, who scored the Canadiens' second goal. "That's been a big key to our success on the penalty kill, is not giving the other team that many opportunities to score goals on the power play, and that kind of dug us a hole a little bit, and we were just a little off our game. They had pretty good confidence going into their power play and they moved the puck well, and I think we were just a little bit slow."
Montreal led 1-0 when it killed a pair of minor penalties on Brandon Prust in the first period. Canadiens center Torrey Mitchell had an opportunity to make it a two-goal lead after Montreal was called for its third straight penalty, but Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop turned aside his shot on a shorthanded breakaway before Valtteri Filppula scored the first of the Lightning's four power-play goals to tie it at 1-1 with 24 seconds left in the first.
"It seemed like we were carrying the play, and then all of a sudden we got into some penalty trouble, and then momentum switched," Mitchell said. "We feel 5-on-5 we've done a lot of good things. There are so many momentum switches in a game, so if we feel like we're carrying the play, we can't be taking stupid penalties."
After Game 2, Prust accused referee Brad Watson of calling him names and taking over the game when he had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty tacked on to his roughing minor for arguing with Watson.
"I'm old-school with those things," Therrien said. "I'm a true believer that what's in the dressing room should stay in the dressing room, what's on the ice, any comments should stay on the ice and we'll take care of that internally."
The Canadiens' penalty-killing difficulties Sunday magnified their woes on the power play. Montreal went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage and has one goal in 26 opportunities in the playoffs.
"We move on as quick as we can from Game 1 and Game 2," Gilbert said. "We've had great success all year long, and it's been this group of guys, and we understand that. It's a seven-game series so to be down two games, obviously we kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we still have a lot of belief in our locker room and our guys that we have.
"We have elite goaltending, and I think if we just keep sticking to it we know we can beat this team. It doesn't matter how many times they beat us throughout the regular season, Game 1, Game 2. Game 1 could have gone either way, you know, we start out Game 2 with a great first period. I think if we can just build off that, you know, play a full 60 minutes, we'll give ourselves a good chance to win."