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Canadiens defenseman Beaulieu could play in Game 5

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will be a game-time decision for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said that Beaulieu has been cleared to return from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him for the past seven games.

"Yes, he's ready to play," Therrien said. "He's 100 percent and we'll let you know if he's going to be in the lineup."

Beaulieu has not played since Game 3 of the Canadiens' first-round series against the Ottawa Senators. He had one assist in three games, all Montreal wins, which won the series in six games.

"We like the way he played before he got hurt," Therrien said. "He had a really good second half [of the regular season] and he played well during the series against Ottawa. The way that he can skate, the way that he can move the puck, we're confident when he's in the lineup."

Beaulieu was paired with Tom Gilbert, who moved to the right side after playing the left with rookie Greg Pateryn.

"He's playing really well, too," Therrien said. "[Pateryn] did a really good job; two different types of defensemen, though."

Pateryn had three assists and a plus-2 rating in seven games playing in Beaulieu's absence.

"It's been really good for me personally," Pateryn said. "It's been a lot of fun with these guys and my experience knowing that I can play, not only at this level, but in the playoffs and games are on the line and help out and be dependable, so that's huge for me and I think it shows a lot of people that too."

The Canadiens trail the best-of-7 series 3-1 and face their second straight elimination game. The defeated the Lightning 6-2 in Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

"Our players are really focused," Therrien said. "They're going to play really hard. I'm expecting an intense game and our main focus right now, to be quite honest, is to go back to Tampa Bay."

Montreal has won four of five games when facing elimination the past two seasons. The Canadiens' only loss was to the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.

"The only way to explain it is the character that we have," said right wing Brendan Gallagher, who has scored in each of the past two games. "It doesn't change the way we play. We don't become a different hockey team based on the situation we're in. I think we stay focused on the task at hand. We understand the situation we're in. We understand that we're capable of doing it; it's going to be a challenge, it's going to be tough, but it's something we're capable of doing as long as we go out and execute and play our game."

Here are the projected lineups:

LIGHTNING

Ondrej PalatTyler JohnsonNikita Kucherov

Alex KillornSteven StamkosRyan Callahan

Brian BoyleValtteri FilppulaCedric Paquette

Brenden MorrowVladislav NamestnikovJ.T. Brown

Victor HedmanAnton Stralman

Jason GarrisonBraydon Coburn

Matthew CarleAndrej Sustr

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Nesterov

Injured: Mattias Ohlund (knee)

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - David Desharnais - Dale Weise

Brandon Prust - Lars Eller - Pierre-Alexandre 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: Greg Pateryn, Brian Flynn, Manny Malhotra, Mike Weaver, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Condon

Injured: None

Status report: If Beaulieu is unable to play, Gilbert will remain on the left side with Pateryn.

Who's hot: Pacioretty had a shorthanded goal and two assists in Game 4, and Subban and Galchenyuk each had two assists. Gilbert has a point in each game of the series (one goal, three assists). … Petry has two goals in his past three games.

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