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Canadiens stress execution as they try to close series

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Execution is the Montreal Canadiens' mantra heading into Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators at Bell Centre on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Montreal split a pair of games in Ottawa and holds a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series after winning the first two games at home.

"We like to play at home," Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov said after the morning skate Friday. "Our fans give us extra energy and we just have to play our best and try to focus on our game and bring our best [Friday]."

Each of the first four games of the series were decided by one goal, including overtime wins by the Canadiens in Games 2 and 3.

Neither team has had a lead of more than one goal, and the Canadiens have allowed the first goal in every game.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien emphasized the need for better execution in the wake of the Canadiens' 1-0 loss in Game 4.

"It's pretty simple [Friday], we've got to play our best game of the series," Therrien said. "That's the way it is. That's the way we see it; it's not complicated. We played a lot of important games through the course of the season, big games, especially here at the Bell Centre. We're prepared for that and I've got no doubt in my mind that we're going to have a solid game [Friday]."

The principal area where Montreal can improve its execution is on the power play. The Canadiens have one goal in 16 power-play opportunities against the Senators.

"There is no question about it that our power play has to be better," Markov said. "We're not happy with our power play but we have to stay positive. We have to stay together and play like a unit of five and try to find the way to score the goal. … You have to be compact, you have to make traffic in front of the net. And most importantly you have to shoot the puck to the net and bring the puck there. Most of the goals are scored from in front of the net so we have to be there and we have to put the puck there."

Markov said he and his teammates are not concentrating on the Senators' goalie change that began with Craig Anderson replacing Andrew Hammond for Game 3.

After the Canadiens won Game 3 in overtime, Anderson had his third playoff shutout in Game 4 on Wednesday and will start Game 5.

"There are a lot of good goalies in this League so I don't think it's a big change," Markov said. "We have to focus on our game. And like any other games we have to make some traffic in front of the net and put as many pucks as we can to the net. It's not easy to score goals, especially in the playoffs, so sometimes we just maybe have to score some dirty goals."

Therrien will go with the same lineup he used Wednesday.

"We were one period away to win the series so there's no sense of try to change everything," Therrien said.

Here are the projected lineups:

SENATORS

Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Mark Stone

Mike Hoffman - Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Erik Condra - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Curtis Lazar

Milan Michalek - Zack Smith - Alex Chiasson

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Cody Ceci - Patrick Wiercioch

Mark Borowiecki - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Andrew Hammond

Scratched: Chris Neil, Colin Greening, David Legwand, Jared Cowen

Injured: Chris Phillips (back), Robin Lehner (concussion), Matt Puempel (ankle)

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Devante Smith-Pelly

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher

Jacob De La Rose - Lars Eller - Dale Weise

Brandon Prust - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Jeff Petry

Tom Gilbert - Greg Pateryn

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: PA Parenteau, Manny Malhotra, Mike Weaver, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Condon

Injured: Nathan Beaulieu (upper body)

Status report: Beaulieu is sidelined for the rest of the series.

Who's hot: Price has allowed one goal in each of his past two games. He has a 1.67 goals-against-average and a .946 save percentage in the series.

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