The Montreal Canadiens understand they had a missed opportunity in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. The New York Rangers aren’t taking seven offensive zone penalties again. Henrik Lundqvist might not look human again. They might not get another overtime in which one bounce either way redefines the series.
They’re facing elimination in Game 5 on Tuesday night, and their body language after Game 4 in the dressing room indicated that. The right things were said, but the Habs looked like an exhausted team that had exhausted its best chance at winning the series.
But the Spirit of 2010 lives on, which is at least a rallying cry the Canadiens can carry into Bell Centre.
Montreal rallied from what seemed like an inevitable defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, down 3-1 on the road. The win game thanks to an early 2-0 lead and a 37-save performance from Jaroslav Halak. It was the first step to a historic rally as a No. 8 seed, even if at the time it seemed like delaying the inevitable. As NHL.com’s game story opened: “Golf season for the Habs will have to wait at least a few more days.”
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.”
It’s hard to envision the Canadiens finding a way to beat Henrik Lundqvist in three straight games, but then it was hard to see a Canadiens team that had been outscored 11-4 in Games 3 and 4 against Washington pulling out the series.
Anything can happen. Heck, the Rangers have a funny way of letting these series go seven games. But one senses that Game 4 was their chance to push the conference championship in that direction, and the Canadiens missed it.