Down 3-0 in the series, when P.K. Subban said that the Canadiens have a chance to do something special, I'd doubt that much of the fan base was overly hopeful that they would succeed. Two wins later, they have reinvigorated a fan base that desperately wants them to succeed, and are putting some serious pressure on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While it was not as convincing as the game four blowout, the Habs played admirably in game five, controlled most of the play at even strength, and earned at least one more game. If they can keep it going, they'll get the opportunity to return to Montreal for a seventh and final game, in front of a crowd that is likely to be one of the most raucous you'll ever see.
First, they'll have to take another game at Amalie arena, and while another six goal performance would be amazing, it is doubtful that Tampa will make things that easy for them. Expect an epic battle, as the Lightning are surely just as desperate to avoid going back to Montreal as the Habs are to make that happen.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EDT / 4:30 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the United States: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter Live
Tale of the Tape
||5v5 Shot attempts for % (total attempts)
|10||5v5 Goals For||7|
|7||5v5 Goals Against||10|
|1.43||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.70|
Keys to the Game
It may be a tad cliche to say, but a whole lot more of the same is needed. Even through the most part of their three losses in this series, the Canadiens have controlled the play at even strength, and could easily be the team holding the series lead with a little more luck on their side. They need to keep the momentum going and play just the way they have been, particularly in the last two games.
Needing some luck may be even more cliche to say, but when you look at the scoring chances, and the amount of times the Habs have been hitting the post, it holds true. If a few of those post shots bounce a little differently off the iron in game five, it may not have taken a bar down winner from P.A. Parenteau in the third, it could have been a blowout. If those bounces start going the Habs' way, look out.
Even the powerplay, which I have been particularly critical of, showed some ability to generate chances in game five. They didn't find any goals, but they're doing all the right things, and that could be the difference in extending the series yet again. Considering that Tampa seems to be the team with more disciplinary issues at this point, they're likely to have their opportunities, and are long overdue to cash in.
On that note, good discipline will be crucial. The embellishment attempts from the likes Ben Bishop and Tyler Johnson have been quite frustrating, but the Habs players need to avoid getting drawn into anything and giving Tampa powerplays. Even-strength has been where the Habs excel in this series, so keeping the game there will be key.
Max Pacioretty, for instance, seems completely fed up with Johnson, so one has to hope that he and the rest of the team can keep their heads straight and beat them where it counts. Tampa's powerplay is very good, so it would be best to avoid giving them those looks at all costs.
Alas, the most important key to any game involving the Habs right now, is of course Carey Price. He's the best goaltender on the planet, he proves it night in and night out, and if there is to be a game seven one could comfortably bet that he'll have a say in the matter. As long as Price is in net, this team has a chance to win.