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Canadiens find themselves in a familiar spot

by Brian Compton
MONTREAL -- For a third straight round, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves with their backs against the wall.
It's nothing new for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the opening round to knock off the first-place Washington Capitals before erasing a 3-2 deficit to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Now, the Canadiens must win three straight games against the Philadelphia Flyers if they hope to compete in their first Stanley Cup Final since winning the Holy Grail in 1993. Montreal, which is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason, will play Game 5 on Monday night at the Wachovia Center with its season once again hanging in the balance.
"We know we have done it before and we still believe," forward Tomas Plekanec said. "Until they get the fourth win, they are not going anywhere else. We'll go out there, we'll regroup and we'll win the game."
Granted, the Canadiens have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series before this postseason. But this time, they're going to back to a building where not only did they not win, but where they were outscored 9-0.
Daunting, isn't it?
"We're not looking at anything that's happened up to this point," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "We're looking at tomorrow night as a huge game. It's do-or-die. Whatever's happened in the past, it's happened and we can't control it anymore. We're coming in with a fresh mindset. We've got to play our best hockey."
Montreal certainly has done that when facing elimination and has gotten superb performances from its big-time players. Michael Cammalleri has scored six of his 13 goals this postseason in elimination games.
"We haven't been a frustrated group all playoffs," Cammalleri said. "It's kind of a familiar feeling for us. They have to beat us again and we seem to play our best hockey in that situation."
They'll need to after setting a franchise record on Saturday, when they were shut out for a third time in a best-of-seven series. After cruising to a 5-1 victory in Game 3 on Thursday night, the Canadiens mustered only 17 shots on goal in a 3-0 loss in Game 4. They were outshot 13-1 in the second period.
That can't happen again on Monday night.
"That's one area that we discussed at length today," coach Jacques Martin said. "We have to bring forth some of the execution and some of the plays that we did in Game 3. Every game is different. We did take a step back last night. It's up to us to regain our edge and be prepared for Game 5."
History dictates the Canadiens will be ready. They know they have nobody to blame but themselves for being in this situation, but it's nothing they haven't overcome before.
"It's tough mentally, but it's a straight up challenge," defenseman Hal Gill said. "We have to go in and win a game, and that's all we're concerned about. We just have to focus on playing the game and playing well. We've had spurts where we've played well and we've had spurts where we've played bad. We have to focus on putting a 60-minute game together. We've put ourselves in this hole and we have to go out and win a game."
If they're able to finally solve the Flyers on Broad Street, the Canadiens will host Game 6 back at the Bell Centre on Wednesday. If not, their season is over. They know what's at stake.
"We don't have a choice anymore," Gorges said. "Like I've said a few times already in this playoff run, when your backs are up against the wall, there's only one way to come out, and that's to come out fighting. That's what we have to do tomorrow."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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