Habs hope to push Bolts to Game 7
(SportsNetwork.com) - There are few things the Montreal Canadiens have failed to accomplish over their storied history, but they achieved a first the last time out by forcing the Tampa Bay Lightning to Tuesday's Game 6.
By taking Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday, the Canadiens sent a series to a sixth game after trailing three games to none for the first time in franchise history. The Habs hope to take it a step further on Tuesday by posting a road victory to set up a decisive Game 7 this Thursday in Montreal.
The Canadiens have been down 0-3 in a best-of-seven set 11 times, but this marks the first time they were able to win two straight to force Game 6.
Only nine teams in NHL history have pushed a best-of-seven series to the limit after trailing 3-0. Four teams have won a series when facing the three-game hole, with the 1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 Islanders, 2010 Flyers and last season's Kings standing as the only clubs to pull off the ultimate comeback.
The Lightning, meanwhile, hope to take a page from Montreal's 2015 postseason and end the comeback tonight. The Canadiens jumped out to a 3-0 lead over Ottawa in the opening round before allowing the Senators to win two straight. However, Montreal regrouped to take Game 6 by a 2-0 count to earn a trip to the second round.
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien talked about the pressure that mounts when a team struggles to finish a series in which it held a 3-0 lead.
"We want to put the pressure on Tampa," said Therrien. "It's not easy -- we were there a couple weeks ago -- having a three-game lead. The longer it takes you to get that fourth one, the more the pressure builds. Now we're going to do everything we can to force a Game 7 at the Bell Centre."
The Lightning did not lose three straight games at any point during the regular season. Tampa will try to continue that trend on Tuesday without the services of forward Ryan Callahan, who underwent an emergency appendectomy on Monday and will be out indefinitely.
According to the Tampa Tribune, Callahan missed Monday's practice and was later sent to Tampa General Hospital after feeling discomfort. He was diagnosed with acute appendicitis following testing and had his appendix removed.
Callahan tallied three assists in 12 games this postseason after posting 24 goals and 54 points over 77 games in the regular season.
The Habs posted a 2-1 win in Saturday's Game 5 clash at the Bell Centre. The season-saving win came courtesy of P.A. Parenteau, who scored the go-ahead goal with 4:07 remaining in the third period.
Montreal had claimed a 1-0 lead on Devante Smith-Pelly's goal a little past the midway point of the first period and the score remained that way until Steven Stamkos tied it for the Lightning with 9:27 remaining in the third.
Although Stamkos came up with the tying goal in the third, his failed clearing attempt led to Parenteau's game-winner. Stamkos intercepted a pass in the Tampa zone and quickly backhanded the puck along the right boards. P.K. Subban stopped the puck at the point and danced around a defenseman to get clear for a pass to the slot for Parenteau, whose one-timer nicked off the crossbar and went in.
"We didn't ever give up," said Parenteau. "We absolutely wanted to go back to Tampa. We don't want it to end now."
Carey Price turned away 24 shots for the Canadiens and has only allowed five goals in three games since getting torched for six scores in last Tuesday's Game 2 loss.
Ben Bishop made 27 saves in the loss and said he didn't see Parenteau's game- winning goal. Lightning defenseman Matt Carle later revealed he "probably screened Bishop."
"It's tough when you only show up for half the game," said Bishop. "We had a good third period, but that's about it and you're not going to win a game that way."
Stamkos, who only had three assists through his first eight games in this postseason, has notched two goals and four helpers during a four-game point streak.
This is the third postseason meeting between the Bolts and Canadiens and it it's the first one that won't be decided in a sweep. The Lightning swept Montreal in the 2004 conference semifinals before the Habs returned the favor in the opening round last spring.