The Montreal Canadiens are 5-3 in Game 7s against the Bruins but just 2-3 in the contests played in Boston. They lost their last Game 7 in Boston, during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, when the Bruins won 4-3 in overtime to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
These fierce rivals will meet Wednesday night at TD Garden for another Game 7, with an opportunity to play the New York Rangers in the conference finals at stake.
Here are three ways the Canadiens can beat the Bruins.
1. Capitalize on the power play
The Canadiens have enjoyed tremendous success with the man-advantage in the three games played at TD Garden. They scored two power-play goals in each of those contests, including P.K. Subban’s double-overtime winner in Game 1.
Montreal is creating power-play scoring chances with quick puck movement to open shooting lanes, entering the attacking zone cleanly and winning 50-50 puck battles along the boards to maintain possession. The Canadiens need to get traffic in front of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask if their power-play success is to continue. If Rask sees the puck, he’ll likely make the save, so Montreal forwards need to set screens and look to deflect pucks when possible. Veteran winger Thomas Vanek has scored a couple of goals off deflections at the top of the crease in this series.
2. Carey Price must overcome his TD Garden struggles
Price has been inconsistent. He allowed seven total goals in the first two games, three in the next two, four in Game 5 and none in Game 6. Montreal needs the Price from Game 6 if it’s to eliminate Boston.
The Canadiens goalie has struggled at TD Garden, giving up 11 goals in three games this series (he allowed just three goals in three games at Bell Centre). He also has lost four of his last five games in Boston.
The key for Price is to not allow the first goal, because the Bruins have won all three Round 2 games in which they’ve opened the scoring. Chasing an elimination game on the road is extremely difficult, and the Canadiens are 1-3 in the playoffs when trailing first (0-2 in Boston this series).
As a player who has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs, Price is under tremendous pressure to enhance his postseason reputation and lead the Canadiens to victory, just like he did for Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
3. Stars must build on their previous performance
The Canadiens’ top line was horrendous through five games, but it woke up in Game 6.
Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek combined for three goals and an assist in Montreal’s 4-0 victory Monday night, but putting together back-to-back quality outings will be difficult with the Bruins having the last line change as the home team. Bruins head coach Claude Julien can play the matchup game and put No. 1 defenseman Zdeno Chara on the ice whenever the Pacioretty line hops over the boards. Pacioretty, who finished fourth in the NHL with 39 regular-season goals, hasn’t found the back of the net in three career playoff games at TD Garden.
Both teams’ first lines have struggled in this series, but if one can get hot and score a goal or two, it could make all the difference.
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