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Canadiens not taking foot off pedal with 2-0 lead

by Brian Hunter


(Montreal leads best-of-7 series, 2-0)


Big story: Two big storylines coming into the series, the edge in Stanley Cup Playoff experience for the Montreal Canadiens and the absence of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, have played out over the first two games, which Montreal won in Tampa Bay to take command of the series. Lightning backup Anders Lindback has given up eight goals on 67 shots and was pulled in the third period of Game 2 in favor of Latvian rookie Kristers Gudlevskis in what coach Jon Cooper said was simply a move to spark the team.

Despite being 49-5 all-time in series in which it has held a 2-0 lead, Montreal has lost three of the past four. The most recent instance was in 2011, when they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in seven games.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Cooper sounded inclined to stick with Lindback rather than give Gudlevskis, who had one start at the end of the regular season, his first playoff start in what promises to be a raucous Bell Centre on Sunday. Lindback has played well at points in the series, but Tampa Bay has been outshot 70-52 to this point and didn't make life very difficult for Canadiens goalie Carey Price in Game 2.

The Lightning hope rookie forward Ondrej Palat will be back in the lineup after leaving the opener in the third period and sitting out Friday. He skated for 45 minutes Saturday and a decision on his availability will be made Sunday. The players held a closed-door meeting following Game 2 to talk about the need to play with more focus and passion in Montreal.

"The leaders took charge of the team," rookie forward Cedric Paquette said Saturday. "They just closed the doors and talked about what wasn't going well and what we needed to do. It's good not to wait for the coach to tell us what we need to do all the time."

Canadiens: Perhaps the biggest task now for Montreal is managing the adrenaline that figures to be flowing through the players' veins Sunday and continuing to do the same things on home ice that brought them success in Tampa.

"It's good that we are up two games, but we fell into that trap against Boston a few years ago, winning two games in their building and then letting off the gas once we got back. We need to make sure that we stick to what worked in the first two games," captain Brian Gionta said. "The Lightning is going to make adjustments, so we need to work to counter them. We need to read what they're going to do and to make necessary changes on the fly."

Another victory by Price will move him past Jose Theodore into possession of 10th place among Canadiens goalies in playoff wins.

Who's hot: Lightning forward Teddy Purcell, who had six goals on their run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, scored to break up Price's shutout late in Game 2. … Canadiens forward Rene Bourque, coming off a tough season in which he scored nine goals in 63 games, had his first multigoal playoff game Friday.

Injury report: Montreal forward Travis Moen (concussion) is progressing toward a return. … Bishop (upper body) remains sidelined; Palat (upper body) will be a game-time decision.

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