The Canadiens returned home after Sunday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Rangers in New York and held an optional practice at 1 p.m. Monday in Brossard.
Both goaltenders – Dustin Tokarski and Peter Budaj – took part in the practice along with 11 skaters. Tomas Plekanec was the first player on the ice and was joined by Brandon Prust, Rene Bourque, Michael Bournival, Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, Travis Moen, Ryan White, Nathan Beaulieu, Douglas Murray and George Parros.
The Rangers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 3-1 and the Canadiens will be facing elmination in Game 5 Thursday night at the Bell Centre (8 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
“It’s a challenge, but this isn’t something that can’t be done,” captain Brian Gionta told reporters in Brossard after Monday’s practice.
In fact, the Canadiens have rallied back from a 3-1 playoff deficit twice in the last 10 years.
In 2010, with Jaroslav Halak in goal and Gionta as the captain, the Canadiens rallied from 3-1 down to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs and won the series. And in 2004, the Habs were down 3-1 to the Boston Bruins in the first round before coming back to win that series.
Gionta was asked if there is anything the current Canadiens can draw on from the 2010 comeback against the Capitals.
“Well, the guys that were here, you know, you remember the situation and you remember the feelings that you had,” he said. “At no point in that series did we feel we were out of it, and the same holds true now. We believe in the team that’s in here, and we believe we can win this series.”
Tomas Plekanec was also part of that 2010 Canadiens team and was asked if the confidence was always there during that series.
“I think when your back’s against the wall, anything after that is playing kind of loose,” he said. “Just going out there every shift and going hard and trying to get, like I said, trying to do everything you can to keep the series going.”
Meanwhile, Canadiens goalie Carey Price – who suffered a knee injury in Game 1 and was ruled out for the rest of the series – skated without equipment for about 20 minutes Monday in Brossard before the team’s optional practice.
“He’s not going to play, like I said before,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters after the practice. ” He’s not going to play in the series, you know. It’s just part of the rehab, that’s all. It’s a great sign.”
Therrien was asked if he spoke with goalie Dustin Tokarski after Sunday’s overtime loss.
“I let (goalie coach) Stephane Waite deal with the goalie, so …” he responded.
In New York, Steve Zipay of Newsday reported that Rangers centre Derek Stepan is accompanying the team to Montreal, but his status for Game 5 is uncertain. Stepan suffered a broken jaw when he was hit by the Canadiens’ Brandon Prust in Game 3. Prust, who wasn’t penalized on the play, was later suspended for two games by the NHL for the late hit.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)
(Video by The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell)