The Montreal Canadiens will look to steal their second straight road playoff victory tonight in Carolina. Pretty much written off as not having a chance the Canadiens went in and despite giving up a very early goal beat the Canes quite badly.
Can they do it again? Carolina will be playing a little more desperately as they realize if they head back to Montreal down 2 games to none that their chances of winning the series are that much worse. The Canes will be feeling the pressure even more so this game and the Canadiens having already accomplished their goal of getting a split should be calm and cool and be able to play their style.
All the pressure is on the Canes. A team that was never pressured all season long. Can they handle it? The Canadiens relaxed and played soccer on their day off while the Canes were probably working feverishly watching tape and wondering what went wrong.
As it normally does, goaltending should play a big role. If Cristobal Huet’s goaltending is strong the Habs most definitely have a chance for the victory. On the other hand if Martin Gerber doesn’t rebound well and plays poorly the Canadiens will pounce all over him.
If the Habs can get to Gerber early it could take the Canes out of it. Gerber’s GAA and save percentage have plummeted drastically at the end of the season and another poor game would bruise the Canes confidence even more.
First goal is always crucial for the Habs but especially against a Canes team that almost never loses after scoring first. Gotta get to Gerber to keep that doubt in the Canes and keep those fans walking out the building.
That being said, this Carolina team won’t roll over. They will come hard and fast and this is now the most important game in the young series. Canadiens going home up 2-0 would be devastating to the Canes but a 1-1 split evens it up and steals the momentum of the Canadiens huge opening win.
Kovalev looks like the playoff performer that he is. When he is motivated and turns on that extra effort he is extremely dangerous and very fun to watch. Kovalev has that look in his eye and expect another big effort and big game from him. Kovalev has never lost a first round playoff series in his career and he seems intent on keeping that streak alive.
The Habs can be the first team in the playoffs to go up 2-0 in a series and you can imagine the atmosphere at the Bell Centre Wednesday should that happen.