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Canadiens, Lightning embrace pressure of Game 6

by Sean Farrell /



Tampa Bay leads best-of-7 series 3-2

Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper know how their respective teams feel about playing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, regardless of who has more pressure on them to win.

Therrien said the Canadiens are excited, full of energy, and can't wait to play at Amalie Arena on Tuesday. Montreal has won two straight elimination games after losing the first three games of this series.

"For sure they've got more pressure," Therrien said Monday. "We've been there. You get a three-game lead you've got the pressure to close. And more it's going, more they feel that pressure. We've been there in the first round and the fourth one is the toughest one because you're meeting a team that's really desperate. And us, on our side, we feel good about it to play those type of games. Look at our record the last two years when we had our back against the wall. This is where it's almost like we perform the best. And [Tuesday] for us it won't be any different."

The Canadiens needed six games to defeat the Ottawa Senators in the first round after taking a 3-0 lead. Montreal has won five of six elimination games in the past two years.

"There's pressure on both teams," Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty said. "There's pressure no matter which city you're playing in, in front of which crowd. It's the playoffs, everyone's watching, it's the hardest trophy to win in sports and it's that way for a reason. There's so much pressure each game, but our ability to handle that pressure I've been really impressed with, not just this year, the past two years in the playoffs, and all these experiences have been adding up and shaping us into a pretty good playoff team."

Cooper said the Lightning are angry after losing two in a row. Tampa Bay had won eight straight against Montreal since a four-game sweep in the first round last year.

"Probably whoever ends up losing the game is the team that had the most pressure and couldn't get through it, like, let's be honest, that's what it is," Cooper said. "If you don't read a newspaper and you don't watch TV, you wouldn't really know anything other than we're playing the Montreal Canadiens. That's kind of how I'm looking at it. It's been fun playing these guys this year, we've played them a lot, a little rivalry has been budding over here the last two years; this is why we're in this."

The Lightning will not have right wing Ryan Callahan, who is out indefinitely after having an emergency appendectomy.

Callahan linemate Alex Killorn acknowledged the Lightning have not matched the Canadiens' level of desperation.

"There's definitely a sense of urgency now that maybe wasn't there before," Killorn said. "We're starting to feel it, but I think that's a good pressure too."

Tampa Bay defenseman Braydon Coburn said the urgency to close out a Stanley Cup Playoff series is always there when there's an opportunity.

"You don't want to have teams hanging around and you want to finish them off," Coburn said. "So [Tuesday], home game, we haven't played our best hockey at home, and we want to come out and change that direction for sure."

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