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Canadiens may shuffle lines to seek offensive boost

by Arpon Basu /

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens do not want to play another home game in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. More importantly, they don't want to be thinking about it either.

The Ottawa Senators have climbed back into the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Canadiens by avoiding elimination in two straight games and now trail 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Sunday at Canadian Tire Centre (6 p.m. ET; CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports).

Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, asked Saturday about the potential for some line changes in Game 6 from coach Michel Therrien, said that might be welcomed.

But he had to catch himself from making an admission he didn't quite want to make heading into a game when the Canadiens can eliminate their opponents.

"When you play the same team seven [times]," Pacioretty began, before catching himself, "or however many times in a series in a row, things get repetitive and you get maybe a little bit comfortable. So I think it's important for us to get a little bit out of our comfort zone. And when we do try new things make sure we get a little energy and focus on having fun playing together."

The idea of having to play Game 7 at Bell Centre is the last thing the Canadiens want to entertain, but the possibility has become very real. And there's a mental challenge attached to that in looking forward to the next game without thinking about what's happened in the past two and the fact the Canadiens have scored one goal in those two losses against Senators goalie Craig Anderson.

"We can't worry about how well their goalie's playing or not scoring on our opportunities, just focus on the next one," Pacioretty said. "As someone who has scored a lot of goals, if you get caught up in the past you're only going to play mind tricks on yourself. We've got to try and get some momentum, and that comes with hopefully a bounce or a dirty goal, and try to jump on them right after that. We haven't really had a chance to swing the momentum in our favor."

Pacioretty's regular center, David Desharnais, agreed with the premise that some changes from Therrien might be beneficial for the Canadiens at this stage of the series.

"Absolutely," Desharnais said. "He did it over the course of the year and it worked pretty often, so I wouldn't be surprised if he did it again."

Therrien said there might be changes in Game 6 without getting into specifics. He could choose to use forward PA Parenteau, who has not played since Game 1 and was a healthy scratch the past three games after recovering from an upper-body injury. Parenteau could bring an offensive boost to a team in dire need of one.

Therrien could put center Lars Eller in a more offensive role considering how well he has played in the series in spite of starting the great majority of his shifts in his own zone with linemates who are not necessarily the Canadiens' best point-producers. Eller was one of the their most consistent and productive forwards in last year's run to the Eastern Conference Final, but Therrien said Eller's role won't change.

"We're a team that wants to roll four lines," Therrien said. "We've had success rolling four lines. We give everyone responsibilities, and we want them to have pride in that."

Eller did earn a shift on the power play in Game 5, an area where the Canadiens have struggled.

Montreal is 1-for-19 in a series where goals are at a premium. But when asked whether the problems on the power play are mental, Therrien chose instead to put the onus on his players.

"You want to have success, it's not only about the power play," Therrien said. "But one thing, I've got a lot of confidence in our best players. They know. They know they have to be better. They have to be better at 5-on-5 and they know they have to be better on the power play. I've got confidence in those guys. They will."

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