After getting bell rung, Canadiens plan for Bell Centre
The prevailing attitude in the Montreal Canadiens’ dressing room wasn’t depression. Rather, it was determination in the face of being down three games to two after a stinging 2-1 double-overtime loss to the Bruins last night.
The Habs didn’t seem frustrated or down in the dumps despite losing three straight games in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal to Boston. They understood that if they can’t win at home in the Bell Centre, which they haven’t yet, the series will be over.
“It’s not devastating, but it’s the way the game goes,’’ said defenseman Hal Gill, who logged 37 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time, the second-highest total on the team.
“It’s just good hockey, both teams playing hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win, but it’s not the end of it.’’
The Canadiens came close to ending it at 5:42 of the second overtime. Travis Moen, skating up the left side, threaded a terrific pass between the legs of Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference in the slot. The puck found its target in Habs captain Brian Gionta, who was charging up the right side. Gionta tried to direct his bid past Tim Thomas but the Bruins goaltender made a nifty slide left to keep the game tied.
“As soon as it left my stick, I thought it was going in,’’ said Gionta. “But he’s a good goalie and he made a great save on it.
“It was a two-on-one and Moen made a great pass over. My thought was getting it on the net and trying to get it over him.
“He’s a pretty good goalie and he moves well side to side and he read it.’’
All in all, it was a frustrating night for the Canadiens’ offense. There was no scoring by either team until 4:33 of the third period, when Brad Marchand put the Bruins on top.
But the Canadiens fought back and tied it at 13:56 on Jeff Halpern’s goal. Nathan Horton was the hero for the Bruins at 9:03 of the second extra session.
“Both teams were battling tonight,’’ said Gionta. “It was tough to get chances and, when we did, the goalies played extremely well. Both are great goalies and we knew that coming into the series. Unfortunately, tonight we came out on the short end.’’
Real estate was tough to come by all game long. Both teams played well defensively, limiting each other’s chances.
“When it’s a 0-0 tie, you try to spark something and get something going and it was a nice play on the tying goal by Halpy,’’ said Gionta. “We made a push for sure. I thought we had a pretty good effort.
“Both teams were going after each other and there really wasn’t much going on for the better part of that game, and both teams were pretty tight defensively and didn’t give up much.’’
As captain, Gionta will have part of the responsibility for helping his team bounce back in Game 6, something that he is sure that will happen.
“They’re a good team,’’ said Gionta. “With the exception of tonight, Games 3 and 4, it was our mistakes that led to their wins. Tonight, it was just a back-and-forth battle.
“Nobody feels it more than the guys in this room. We’ve got two days to kind of regroup before Game 6. Right now, it stinks for sure. But we’ve got two days to get over it.
“We want to win and we have the confidence that we’re a better team and we’ve got two more games to [prove] that.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.