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Five key factors in Canadiens-Flyers Game 3

by Shawn P. Roarke
Home cooking -- Will the Bell Centre be a decided advantage for Montreal in Game 3? It's one of the most intimidating buildings for visiting teams -- especially in the playoffs. This spring, it has been as loud and vibrant as ever, willing the underdog Canadiens to staying-alive win after staying-alive win. Montreal is 4-2 at home this postseason and will need another successful night before the home folks in Game 3 to avoid the most perilous of situations.

How low can he go? -- Michael Leighton has been unbeatable against Montreal, stopping all 58 shots the Canadiens have fired his way through two games. But he has been dominant for longer than that. He has started four games since Brian Boucher was injured and has won them all. His current shutout streak of 165:50 is second in franchise playoff history only to the mark of 184:45 set by Brian Boucher in 2000. He has an astronomically high .969 save percentage this postseason.

Match game -- It will be interesting to see how both coaches handle line matching as this series switches venues. Montreal, as the home team, will have last change for the first time in this series, and coach Jacques Martin can force the Flyers to scramble if they want to match top defensive pair Chris Pronger and Matt Carle against the Michael Cammalleri line. After scoring 12 goals in the first two rounds, Cammalleri was limited to two quality chances in the first two games in Philadelphia.

Is Price right? -- Martin did not confirm that Jaroslav Halak was his man in Game 3. Yes, Halak has allowed seven goals in the two games, and yes, he was pulled in the second period of Game 1. But he has only allowed two questionable goals  in this series – Danny Briere's opening goal in Game 2 and a Ville Leino shot he whiffed on to close out the scoring in that game – and he is the primary reason Montreal has made it to the third round. Martin did start Carey Price in Game 4 of the Washington series, but Price took a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the third period as the Caps turned a tie game into a rout en route to a 3-1 series lead. Price has only seen mop-up duty on two occasions since.

Chemistry 101 -- Philadelphia has some roster decisions of its own to make soon. Heart-and-soul forward Ian Laperriere is close to returning from a brain contusion. He has been cleared for contact and started skating with the team on Monday. Before his injury, Laperriere was a fan favorite who did all the little things that a team needs to be successful. In his absence, other players have stepped to the fore; most notably Ville Leino. So what will Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette do when Laperriere is fully ready to re-engage? Does he put the immensely popular and effective veteran back in the lineup or does he stick with the cast that has won him six-straight games since facing extinction squarely in the face last round against Boston.   

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