OTTAWA – The Montreal Canadiens said they know what to expect from the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN).
The Canadiens lead the best-of-7 series 2-0, but they have seen the way the Senators have played when put in a corner this season. The Senators were 14 points out of a playoff spot Feb. 10 and finished the regular season 23-4-4 to earn the first wild card position.
"We know this is going to be tough," Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher said. "This is a big swing game. It's either 3-0 or 2-1 in the series. They are going to come out play with that desperation level they've kind of had all year. They're comfortable in that zone."
The Canadiens had a pair of one-goal victories in the first two games of the series in Montreal, so they said they know the margin between the two clubs has been slim.
"They could easily have a game under their belt in this series," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said. "They know that. We know that and they're feeling good coming back home, coming into a barn that they're comfortable playing in and they have won a lot of games in as late. We've got to be prepared to play our best game."
Subban said the Canadiens have room to improve.
"I still think we can get a lot better than we've played," he said. "I still think there are things we need to clean up in our game. We know that they are going to push the pace tonight. They are going to want to feed off their crowd and feed off the energy in the building and we've got to be prepared for that. They've played really good hockey here all year. I'm expecting their best game.
"I'd anticipate that they are going to come put hard, just like us when we were in Montreal. It's going to be high energy. It's going to be a loud building. They're at home. They've played really well here all year. They always seem to have good starts here so I expect that again tonight."
Subban will likely be a reason for a lot of the energy in Canadian Tire Centre. He received a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct for slashing Ottawa forward Mark Stone in Game 1 and will likely hear from the crowd.
Gallagher said Subban thrives in those kinds of environments.
"He enjoys these atmospheres, these moments," he said. "Since I've been here, he's always been a guy, the big games, he shows up. He's the type of player who really gets up for these and we know what to expect from him. I think when we need him most, he's there for us."
Here are the projected lineups:
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
Nathan Beaulieu – Tom Gilbert
Scratched: Manny Malhotra, Mike Weaver, Sergei Gonchar, Greg Pateryn, Joey MacDonald
Injured: PA Parenteau (upper body)
Clarke MacArthur– Kyle Turris – Mark Stone
Milan Michalek – Mika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan
Erik Condra – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Curtis Lazar
Mike Hoffman – David Legwand – Chris Neil
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson
Patrick Wiercioch – Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Eric Gryba
Scratched: Alex Chiasson, Colin Greening, Zack Smith, Jared Cowen.
Injured: Robin Lehner (concussion), Chris Phillips (back), Matt Puempel (ankle)
Status report: Pacioretty missed Game 1 with an upper body injury, but returned in Game 2 and scored a power-play goal.
Who's hot: Subban has a goal and two assists in his past two games … Galchenyuk and Pleckanec each have a goal and an assist in their past two games.