Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers

Video: Canadiens’ Gallagher returns after taking puck to throat

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Hockey players tend to fight through grueling injuries all season long, but with the playoffs in motion, it’s time for them to really shake off some scary stuff.

Ignoring players shaking off injuries heading into Game 1, Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher might be the first truly impressive tough guy, as he didn’t miss much time after taking a puck to the throat:

Ouch.

Lightning gain home-ice against Canadiens by edging Caps

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Tampa Bay Lightning grabbed home-ice advantage over the Montreal Canadiens thanks to a shootout win (1-0 via “the skills competition”) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

It seems like a fitting victory in a number of ways. For one thing, the gap between the Lightning and Canadiens has been razor-thin this season; the Lightning won three of the four meetings, but most came down to the wire. The Bolts won 2-1 (SO) in Montreal on Nov. 12, the Habs won 2-1 (SO) in Tampa Bay on Dec. 28, the Lightning won 2-1 (OT) on the road on Feb. 1 and Tampa Bay closed out the only regulation win between the two by a score of 3-1 at home on April 1.

The loss was also fitting for the Capitals. Washington participated in an NHL-record 21 shootouts in 2013-14, going 10-11 in that regard. (Place “What if the Caps mastered the shootout instead of being merely average in that regard?” on the team’s pile of “What if?” questions.)

Amid a week of turmoil for the Lightning with Ben Bishop’s injury and Ryan Malone’s arrest, the Bolts must feel heartened to see strong play from Anders Lindback. He’s now a three-game winning streak with two shutouts, only only two goals in that span (stopping 77 out of 79 shots).

The towering 25-year-old still sports an ugly 8-12-2 record and poor individual stats over the long haul of this season, but the Lightning need him to play at his highest level against a Montreal team that clearly seems capable of pushing them in this upcoming first-round series.

Red Wings pay the price for ‘chasing the game’ against Canadiens

mikebabcockgetty
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It might’ve been entertaining for the fans, but not for Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

The Red Wings came out on the losing end of a 5-4 final score against the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six match up on Thursday. Sure, goals are fun for those watching. The two teams combined for five in a wild third period, too.

But Babcock has a different opinion, especially considering his team was trying to breakaway from a four-team pack all vying for that final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

“When you start chasing the game like we were tonight, anything can happen. It’s entertaining and all that for the fans but it’s not a recipe for success whatsoever,” Babcock said afterward, as per video on the Detroit Free Press website.

The Red Wings missed out on an opportunity to jump ahead into sole possession of the top Wild Card spot in the East, ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Instead, they remain part of the four-team logjam that also includes the Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs at 80 points. There are only the two Wild Card spots available, so there’s no room for error.

Lineup changes aplenty for Montreal after snapping Boston’s win streak

larsellergetty
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The Montreal Canadiens will ice a decidedly different-looking team from the one that snapped Boston’s 12-game winning streak on Monday.

The two forwards injured by Bruins d-man Kevan Miller — Travis Moen and Dale Weise — are out for tonight’s game against Buffalo, replaced by Lars Eller and Ryan White. On defense, Jarred Tinordi will return from his stint as a healthy scratch and suit up — at the expense of veteran Francis Bouillon, who’ll sit.

In goal, Carey Price will get the start after Peter Budaj was brilliant in stopping 28 of 29 shots against Boston.

These certainly are interesting times for the Habs. With Moen, Weise and Brandon Prust out of the lineup — Prust was lost for the remainder of the regular season last week with an upper-body injury — the team definitely lacks some grit and toughness in its bottom-six forward group, something that’s historically been an issue given the lack of size among the top-six.

That said, the club has shown some major resiliency lately.

Montreal has won five of six after a tough stretch from Mar. 3-12, where they lost three of four during a Western road swing through L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose. The Habs then returned home for a listless 4-1 loss to Boston, which seemed to provide a spark — since then, Montreal’s racked up wins over Ottawa, Colorado, Buffalo, Toronto and Boston to draw even with Tampa Bay on points (87) in the Atlantic Division.

 

 

Bruins’ Lucic calls Canadiens’ Emelin ‘a chicken’

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic unleashed on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin – but not with his fists.

Lucic had some strong words for Emelin following Monday’s heated match-up between the two Original Six rivals, which was won in the shootout by the Canadiens.

Lucic took issue with a hip check Emelin threw on him in the first period, drawing a response from Zdeno Chara. And Lucic didn’t hold back his feelings of the hit, or Emelin.

“Whether it’s fair, legal or whatever you want to call it, if he wasn’t scared, he would stand up and hit me and not go after my knees,” Lucic said, as per ESPN Boston.

“It just shows how big of a chicken he is that he needs to go down like that to take me down. It shows what kind of player he is, and on my end, you know you’ve got to keep your guard up at all times.”

Later in the game, it appeared Lucic caught Emelin with a spear, however he denied that.

There was another incident in the first period, in which two members of the Canadiens were hurt. Forward Dale Weise was hurt on a hit from Bruins’ Kevan Miller, who was called for cross checking on the play. Habs’ forward Travis Moen stepped in to fight Miller, but was knocked to the ice after taking a punch to the side of the head.

“I hope [Weise] is all right — both those guys. To be honest with you about the hit, I felt bad about it. I just kind of bumped into him,” Miller told CSNNE.com.

“I think he was a little off balance. I stood there just trying to make sure he was okay for a second, and Moen asked if I wanted to go. I just hope they’re both okay.”