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Pressure shifting to Canadiens after two losses

by Arpon Basu /

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was calmly answering questions about their predicament following a second consecutive loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday in their Eastern Conference First Round series.

The Canadiens lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 but have scored one goal on 74 shots in the two losses and three times on 123 shots in the three games since goaltender Craig Anderson took over for Andrew Hammond.

Subban did not seem overly concerned.

"It takes a lot to make me uncomfortable," he said. "You'd have to put some bugs, insects in my underpants to make me uncomfortable."

As Subban continued speaking, goaltender Carey Price was talking to the media in another corner of the Canadiens dressing room.

Shortly after Price finished speaking, he retreated to the back area of the room. Just then, someone screamed an expletive so loudly it made Subban flinch as he was listening to a question and look over to see what was happening.

There's no way to be sure it was Price, but it happened just after he finished his media availability and retreated to the back, and it was loud enough to startle someone standing at the opposite end of the dressing room.

Not long afterward, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien arrived for his media availability just after Senators coach Dave Cameron completed his.

Cameron said Friday morning he felt the pressure in the series had shifted to the Canadiens, and that was before Ottawa's 5-1 victory in Game 5. He wasn't about to change his way of thinking after a performance like that.

"When you're in our shoes there, and we were facing elimination, I mean the pressure's on us," Cameron said. "Each game you win, to live another day, the pressure I think shifts a bit towards Montreal."

Once Therrien arrived, it became pretty clear Cameron might be right.

Normally, after a game when the Canadiens generated 46 shots on goal, 82 shot attempts and dominated a great majority of the play, Therrien has shown this season he can put a positive spin on it.

Normally, you can't really blame him.

But these are not normal times for the Canadiens, forced to head back to Ottawa for Game 6 on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) after squandering two straight opportunities to close the series and suddenly unable to score against Anderson.

Therrien's press conference was tight and terse, using 145 words to answer nine questions total in English and French and taking 2:41 to do it.

"We came out of the gate really hard," Therrien said in his opening answer. "They took advantage of their opportunities. Anderson was really good."

He repeated the exact same answer in French and didn't say much of anything after that.

Therrien did not look like a man who was encouraged by shot attempts.

It might be because he remembers what happened two years ago, when Anderson stole Game 1 of their first-round series with 48 saves in Ottawa's 4-2 win before the Senators eliminated the Canadiens in five games. That thought might be fresh in the minds of many in the dressing room, including Price, who was significantly outplayed by Anderson in that series in 2013.

"I don't think so," Canadiens center Lars Eller said when asked if the pressure has shifted to his team. "They're the ones that have to win to keep it going."

This is true, but the Canadiens are now in a position to potentially lose a series they led 3-0, something four teams have done in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are in that position against the Senators, who have given them trouble throughout 2014-15, winning three of four games in the regular season.

The pressure to win is clearly still on the Senators in Game 6. If they lose, their season is over.

But there is now a belief in the Senators room, one they have relied on the past two months to erase a 14-point deficit to reach the postseason and one they can draw upon to accomplish something nearly as unlikely.

In the other dressing room, the sentiment the Canadiens need to ward off is doubt.

"At the end of the day, we're up 3-2 [in the series]," forward Max Pacioretty said. "This is a good team we're playing against. Nobody said it was going to be easy. They definitely have a lot of heart. They battled back from the [NHL Trade Deadline] and played some of the best hockey in the League. We were expecting them to play that well and their goalie is playing probably the best I've seen him play. We can't focus on that.

"We've got to worry about winning one game and winning a series."

What they need to avoid worrying about is what will happen if they don't win that one game in Ottawa on Sunday.

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