The Canadiens returned to Montreal after Friday night’s 4-1 win over the Lightning in Tampa to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Coach Michel Therrien scrapped plans for a noon-hour practice in Brossard, instead opting for a team meeting at 1:30 p.m., followed by an off-ice workout and media availability.
Game 3 is Sunday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
“We’re really focused on the things we have to do today to prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s game,” Therrien told reporters in Brossard Saturday afternoon, adding he likes the Habs’ concentration and determination.
“The players also know that when we stay in our team concept, that’s when we’re at our best,” the coach added. “That’s what we see now.”
Despite being up 2-0 in the series, Therrien said he knows there’s a rough road ahead in the playoffs.
“We all understand that the more we go through the playoffs, the more difficult the games are to play,” he said. “We’re glad we’re back at home. But I like our focus. We’ve got a business mentality. So today it’s about preparing ourselves for tomorrow. And tomorrow it’s going to be our main focus. And that’s the way we like to do things here.”
Said Canadiens captain Brian Gionta about being up 2-0 in the series: “It’s huge. But, at the end of the day, we fell into that trap against Boston a few years back.
“We won two games in (the Bruins’) building and we came back and let off the gas a bit. So we need to make sure that (Sunday) night is our focus. And we’ve got to do the things that have made us successful in the first two games and make sure we stick with that.”
In 2011, the Canadiens won the first two games of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in Boston but then lost Games 3 and 4 on home ice and eventually lost the series in seven games.
The Lightning practised in Tampa Saturday morning before flying to Montreal. Rookie winger Ondrej Palat, who suffered an upper-body injury in Game 1 and missed Game 2, took part in practice and hopes to play in Game 3.
Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness met with the media in Tampa after practice and said Palat will be a game-time decision Sunday. Bowness added that a decision has yet to be made on who will start in goal for the Lightning Sunday, but it won’t be Ben Bishop, who is sidelined with an elbow injury. Anders Lindback was pulled in Game 2 and replaced by Kristers Gudlevskis.
“I think the first game was overhyped, but tonight I felt better than I did in Game 1,” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price told reporters in Tampa after making 27 saves in Game 2. “We didn’t play our best hockey in Game 1 but we found a way to win.”
Added Brendan Gallagher: “You don’t want to take your foot off the pedal. Going up 1-0 on the power play gave us momentum and we have to keep pushing.”
The Canadiens will have a morning skate Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Brossard. The Lightning will skate at the same time at the Bell Centre.
(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)