BROSSARD, Quebec – The Montreal Canadiens return to Bell Centre for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, SUN) looking to take advantage of playing in their home arena with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"I think we could've been better at home this season and I think it can be used as a tool for us, especially during playoff time," Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said following the morning skate Sunday. "We know it's going to be electric in there tonight and we have to use that, feed off that and create some energy and make sure we're flying off the start.
"But at the same time, we have to have a road-like mentality. We can't change the way we play because we're back on home ice. We need to use that energy and excitement or passion to play, but it has to be controlled and smart energy. We need to keep it simple and still play that north-south game."
Though Bell Centre can be an intimidating building for visiting teams, Gorges knows that opponents also get excited to play in such an atmosphere, and the Canadiens must make sure they don't let the Lightning channel such excitement in a positive way.
"I've always said this and I really believe it, I think visiting teams when they come here, it's a fun place to play," Gorges said. "There's not too many places that are like Montreal. It's such a passionate crowd and tonight will be no different, so I think the other teams get excited for it as well. So we expect [Tampa Bay] to come out flying, pushing the pace really hard, and we have to be prepared for that and we have to make sure we're doing the exact same thing to them."
Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher recalled his home playoff debut last season, when he took some bad penalties, and didn't use his passionate play and the Bell Centre crowd to his advantage.
"I think it's definitely something you have to understand how to do," Gallagher said. "I'm an emotional player and I play with passion. But last year at times it did get out of control for me, and I was playing too much with the heart and not so much with the head. I think you have to just balance out the two things and when you do that it's such a fun atmosphere to be a part of."
Montreal defenseman Mike Weaver will be playing his first playoff game at Bell Centre. He was beaming with excitement Sunday, but is wary of how that excitement can work against him.
"A lot of emotions are in it right now," Weaver said. "Great city, great fans and a great building, but I'm just taking it in stride, one step at a time, and that's what we have to do as a team and take it one shift at a time. I was in the playoffs in St. Louis and playoffs in Florida, so this is obviously going to take it to a whole other level. It's going to be fun so I'm just enjoying myself here. You have to do that. Just embrace the moment and live in the present."
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien has no problem with his players embracing the excitement of being back in their own arena, but he wants them to maintain the business-like approach they displayed in the first two games of the series at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"When you come into the playoffs, one thing is you gotta be excited," Therrien said. "We played two games and as a group we were excited to play those games. Now that we're playing at home, we still gotta be excited about playing those games. It's an emotional game and you gotta control your emotion, you gotta keep your composure but you gotta be excited to play. Definitely a game like tonight players will feed from the crowd, but they have to keep their composure and have a business mindset."
Here is the Canadiens' projected lineup:
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Thomas Vanek
Brandon Prust – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Rene Bourque – Lars Eller – Brian Gionta
Michael Bournival – Daniel Briere – Dale Weise
Andrei Markov – Alexei Emelin
Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Francis Bouillon – Mike Weaver
Injured: Alex Galchenyuk (lower body), Travis Moen (concussion)
Scratched: George Parros, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, Jarred Tinordi