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Canadiens winning despite power-play slump

by Sean Farrell /

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens' power play is struggling so much four games into the Stanley Cup Playoffs that even a moral victory would boost team morale.

Montreal holds a 3-1 advantage in its best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators despite scoring once in 16 power-play opportunities. Left wing Max Pacioretty scored the Canadiens' only power-play goal of the series so far in the second period of Game 2, which Montreal won 3-2 in overtime.

Game 5 is Friday at Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA).

"Even early on in the series I think we were OK on the power play, but the last couple of games we weren't very good and we need to get better," forward Brendan Gallagher said Thursday. "It's not always about scoring a goal; it's just about creating positive momentum for the group and last game we didn't do that."

Montreal had 14 shots in six power-play opportunities in Game 2. The Canadiens went 0-for-6 with 11 shots in Game 3 and were held to five shots while going 0-for-3 in Game 4, a 1-0 loss in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Left wing Alex Galchenyuk felt bombarded by questions about the power play after the team's optional practice Thursday.

"In this close game you have to find a way to get momentum or, hopefully, a goal from the power play and the chances we get. But you don't always get what you want," Galchenyuk said. "We've got to stick together and keep battling through it and find ways to get in scoring areas, find ways to create good offensive chances, and if we do that, we should be fine."

Pacioretty skated out in his training suit with a bucket of pucks before a dozen or so of his teammates took to the ice. The Canadiens' leading scorer during the regular season with 37 goals and 67 points laid down a stick in front of him and repeatedly shot pucks into the open net.

"On the power play it's never all about one player solving the problem," coach Michel Therrien said. "It's about the unit being on the same wavelength, and also about good execution, which you need to be successful."

One of the Canadiens' best scoring opportunities in Game 4 came on a back-door pass by Pacioretty to defenseman Andrei Markov, who mans the point with partner P.K. Subban.

"You look at how they're playing [Markov] and [Subban] up top, they're not giving them a lot of space, even when they get the puck, not only for a shot but for a pass as well, they're right in their face," Gallagher said. "We definitely have to move it around, use the lower half, use those plays a little more and hopefully find some seams, and if we start to do that maybe those guys up top will open up."

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