Habs offence needs to wake up in Game 6

Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens react to going down 4-1 in the third period against the...

Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens react to going down 4-1 in the third period against the Boston Bruins during Game 5 at the TD Garden on May 10, 2014. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:55 PM ET

If there was going to be a challenging matchup in the East for the Boston Bruins in these NHL playoffs, it looked like it was going to be the Montreal Canadiens.

For most of the last 10 days, that’s been the case.

The Canadiens’ quickness has been a bad matchup for the B’s recently and they've had a knack for driving them into undisciplined acts.

But there’s been a sense since Boston's pivotal win here in Game 4, the Bruins have been wrapping their hands around this Atlantic Division final.

And now they’re up 3-2 in the series and have the Canadiens facing elimination Monday night.

The Bruins had looked tentative and jittery at times -- top line centre David Krejci is still handling the puck like it’s a brick -- but now goaltender Tuukka Rask seems to have shaken off his career-long struggle against the Habs.

The Bruins trademark depth up front is once again imposing itself as Boston’s third line of Loui Eriksson, Carl Soderberg and Matt Fraser has delivered wins in Games 4 and 5.

The Bruins have gotten their swagger back and their bullying back to form -- from forward Milan Lucic giving Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban two tickets to the gun show while flexing from the bench in Game 5 to tough guy Shawn Thornton squirting water at Subban in the waning minutes of the Bruins 4-2 victory.

The Bruins are winning whichever way the game is going.

Whether it is the tight, 5-on-5 play of Game 4, or the penalty-filled Game 5 in which they swung the match with two power-play goals early in the second period.

The Canadiens looked overmatched for much of Game 5 and couldn’t generate much in the way of offence to test Rask.

But Montreal captain Brian Gionta said Sunday he thinks his team has had the edge in play overall, and that’s the thought they will take into Game 6.

“We’re definitely not afraid of the situation (Monday) night. We’re excited about it. It’s been a tight series. By no means are we scared to go out there and play and feel that we’re outmatched by any means,” he said.

“It’s not the first time or the last time we’ll be in this situation. A lot of teams go through it. It’s been a tight series. We’re comfortable with our group. We’re confident with our group. Obviously, you win or you go home and we’re not ready to go home now.”

As far as Boston's swagger goes, Gionta gave it the verbal equivalent of a brushing off motion.

“It’s all for show,” he said. “We’ve played them for the most part pretty good with the exception of (Saturday) night’s game. We felt we’ve done a good job of controlling this series and a good job of neutralizing their strengths.”

The Habs are going to need some offence if they are going to win Monday and take the series back to Boston for Game 7 Wednesday night.

They’ve scored just two goals in the last two games and their top guns continue to be inadequate.

Winger Max Pacioretty had an assist on Subban’s late power-play goal to make it 4-2, but he remains with just one goal in these playoffs. Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who was on the ice for 76% of Pacioretty's shifts in Game 5, has a lot to do with that.

Tomas Vanek, who was so good for the Habs in the regular season after being acquired at the trade deadline, has been dropped from that line with Pacioretty and centre David Desharnais. He was a non-factor again in Game 5 and has produced just two shots in the last three games.

What adjustments need to be made?

“Yeah, put it in the net when you have to," Desharnais said.

“I think we had our chances, but they capitalized on their chances a bit more than we did. At 3-0 (in Game 5), it’s harder to come back against a team like that, they shut things down. To take a lead the way we did in the first two games will be the key again.”

Gionta said the Canadiens don’t need to do anything drastic. Just some tweaking.

“I think a lot is taken out of context because how the game unfolded (Saturday) night. For the most part of the series, we’ve felt comfortable playing against these guys," he said.

"Early in that second, they get two power-play goals and it kind of changed the momentum of the game. That was a huge swing. From that point, you’re chasing the game and maybe forcing things that you shouldn’t. You’re getting out of your comfort level because you’re trying to force something.

"This whole series has been a great matchup and both teams have played great. We’re confident in our group.”

THORNTON SLAPPED

It sounds like the Shawn Thornton water bottle incident at the end of Game 5 is water under the bridge.

On Sunday, the Boston Bruins winger was fined $2,820.52 by the NHL for twice squirting Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban in the face as he skated near the Bruins bench in the waning minutes of the B’s 4-2 win.

“I obviously got caught up in the moment,” Thornton said while addressing the issue Sunday (he did not take questions).

“The fine, I’ll pay the fine. Obviously I agree with what the league does there. I’m sorry that this silly incident kind of overshadowed how my teammates played and the great win and how good this series has been. There’s definitely more important things that we can focus on.

Thornton added he “got caught up in the moment and I probably shouldn’t have done that. You know what, move on and get ready for Game 6, pay the fine and hopefully have a good showing.”

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said the fine was “fair enough.”

“What are you going to do? I mean, it’s part of the game and it’s part of their strategy," the forward added. "I guess it was handled in the right way. I don’t think too many guys thought too much about it after last night.

“Either way, it wasn’t going to be a big issue for us.”


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