The Montreal Canadiens have a second opportunity to eliminate the Ottawa Senators from the playoffs. The Canadiens blew their chance at a sweep with a no-show in game four, but with the series back in Montreal they have the opportunity to win at home. Home ice means that Michel Therrien can control the offensive match-ups again and work to get Lars Eller out against Mika Zibanejad as much as possible, as the former dominated the latter in earlier games. Therrien can also control his forward match-ups against the Senators defence and work to get Max Pacioretty out opposite the second and third pairs, which are significantly weaker than Ottawa's first pairing.
The Canadiens were the stronger team in the first three games, but the Senators dominated game four. This is probably in part to the promotion of Mike Hoffman off the fourth line and onto the second line where his play-driving is better utilized.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM ET
In Canada: CBC, TVA
In the United States: CNBC
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter
Tale of the Tape
|51.4%||Shot Attempts for (%)||49.6%|
|6%||Power Play Percentage||25%|
|75%||Penalty Kill Percentage||94%|
Keys to the Game
If the Montreal Canadiens want to win game five, they have to play like they did in games one through three. The Canadiens controlled possession and scoring chances in those first three games, while they lost those battles in game four. Simply put, the Canadiens have to go back to what was working. Senators head coach Dave Cameron has been tweaking his line-up and tactics to better counteract the Canadiens system in the first three games, so the Canadiens are facing an uphill battle.
One place the Canadiens will not have help is on defence. Nathan Beaulieu remains out with an upper-body injury, but his replacement Greg Pateryn remains available after suffering facial cuts in game four. The Canadiens lack left side playing defencemen to replace Beaulieu as the Hamilton Bulldogs suffered deep defensive injuries as their season wound down.
The Canadiens could try to aid the weakened defence by inserting P.A. Parenteau into the line-up to add in more offensive support and another puck possession player, but that move seems unlikely based on what Therrien said Thursday. Instead, the offensive load will remain on the top-six forwards and Therrien is hoping that the bottom trios will be able to outplay the Senators bottom-six.