- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
The Tampa Bay Lightning can raise the Stanley Cup over Montreal ice after Game 4 on Monday, as they lead the Canadiens 3-0 in their series. While seeing an opponent celebrating a championship in Bell Centre isn’t ideal, defenseman Jeff Petry kept the bigger picture in mind.
“We don’t want to see the Lightning win the Stanley Cup, at all,” he said on Sunday. “You’re not going to win four games by winning one tomorrow. Our goal is to win tomorrow’s game and deal with flying out and preparing for a game in Tampa.”
The Canadiens face elimination after a 6-3 Game 3 defeat that saw them make a number of mistakes that led to Lightning goals, which has been a recurring theme in a series that’s seen them outscored 14-5.
“We know what we need to do and we know it’s about executing. It’s about executing under pressure. It’s about making those plays at the right time. But we know how to do it, and we’ll do it,” said Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme, who said any lineup decisions for the team would be revealed Monday.
Ducharme pointed to the team’s Game 2 effort in a 3-1 loss as “the best” the Canadiens can offer in the series, a proof of concept that they’re not outmatched by the defending Stanley Cup champions. They’re relying on that and the resiliency that led to their spot in the Final, including a rally from being down 3-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.
“We’re here for a reason. Obviously we’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole here, but the mood’s light right now,” said forward Josh Anderson. “We have a job to do, and we’re going to do everything we can to stay in this thing and fly out to Tampa on Tuesday. Everyone’s just getting prepared for tomorrow night’s game and we’re all going to compete and work hard and put a full night’s effort in.”
Montreal could benefit from a unique break in the Stanley Cup playoffs schedule. While most games have been played on one day’s rest, the series between the Canadiens and Lightning took the weekend off due to broadcasting conflicts.
“I think it helps give us a day, yesterday, to kind of reset and refresh,” Petry said. “Obviously today, we were working on a few specialty teams and getting on the ice and meeting this morning. I think it was a good day yesterday to kind of reset, refresh and make sure that we’re ready to take this challenge head-on.”
But it’s a challenge that’s proved nearly impossible to rally against. Only one team in NHL history has come back to win the Stanley Cup after losing the first three games of the Final: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, although the New York Islanders (1975), Philadelphia Flyers (2010) and Los Angeles Kings (2014) rallied for series wins in earlier rounds.
Plus, for the Canadiens to rally, they’d have to do so against a Lightning team that’s 14-0 after playoff defeats since the start of last postseason.
“Well, we’ve got nothing to lose at this point. Everyone’s going to be ready for tomorrow night, I can tell you that,” said Anderson. “We’re not finished yet. So take it one game at a time and come in tomorrow night ready to play.”
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