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Canadiens' confidence never waned during series

by Arpon Basu / NHL.com

TAMPA -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was asked prior to Game 3 here, having lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference Second Round series at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, whether having two days off helped him make the necessary adjustments to turn the series around.

"Honestly, we don’t have that many adjustments to make," Therrien said.

When the Canadiens went on to lose Game 3 later that night 2-1 on a last-second goal by Tyler Johnson to go down 3-0 in the best-of-7 series, the quote resonated back in Montreal as a kiss of death.

But Therrien and the Canadiens stuck to their belief that they had been the better team in the series in spite of the results, and now coming off two straight wins, they need a win in Game 6 on Tuesday at Amalie Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) to force a deciding Game 7 in Montreal on Thursday.

"I feel a group that's confident," Therrien said Tuesday. "It's important to be confident. The reason we're confident is the way we're playing. The way we've been playing is why we start these games with confidence. I really like the way we've been playing in this series since Game 1. The results might not have been there, but we persevered. We didn't want to change things because we thought eventually it would turn around."

Montreal is confident because of the way it's playing, and it's playing that way because it's confident. Call it the circle of confidence.

The Canadiens can draw from recent experience to feel that way, particularly from their second-round series against the Boston Bruins last season, when they came back from 3-2 down to win Game 7 in Boston. There also was last season against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, when they forced a Game 6 after trailing the series 3-1.

Montreal has been here before. For Tampa Bay, this situation is very new.

"I think we have a lot of experience in this room," Canadiens center Lars Eller said. "We've been through a lot. A lot of times we've shown we can get back up even though we've been down. So I'm not surprised we've come around and won the next two. I don't know why people would be surprised by that. But we're not in this room. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves."

The Canadiens are not expected to make any lineup changes for Game 6. The Lightning will, with forward Ryan Callahan all but assured of missing the game; he was released from the hospital Tuesday after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Monday night. That is of little concern in the Canadiens locker room, however.

"If we go in with the mindset it's going to be a little bit easier tonight because Callahan is out, we're going to make a big mistake," Eller said. "We can't look at it that way. We've had injuries too, and other guys step up. In the big picture I don't think it's going to mean a lot for Tampa."

Here are the projected lineups:

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Brandon Prust - Lars Eller - PA Parenteau

Jacob De La Rose - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Manny Malhotra, Brian Flynn, Mike Weaver, Sergei Gonchar, Greg Pateryn, Mike Condon

Injured: None

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Nikita Kucherov - Tyler Johnson - Ondrej Palat

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Brenden Morrow - Vladislav Namestnikov - Jonathan Marchessault

Anton Stralman - Victor Hedman

Matthew Carle - Braydon Coburn

Andrej Sustr - Jason Garrison

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Nikita Nesterov, Jonathan Drouin, Mark Barberio

Injured: Ryan Callahan (appendectomy)

Status report: There are no foreseeable scenarios in which the Canadiens would alter their lineup in any way for Game 6.

Who's hot: Canadiens defensemen have accounted for four goals and 10 assists in the series, led by four assists by Subban, one goal and three assists by Gilbert and two goals and one assist by Petry. Forwards have accounted for eight goals and 12 assists. … Price has allowed three goals on 49 shots in his past two games (.938 save percentage).

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