The Montreal Canadiens have struggled to find their footing in the Eastern Conference finals. If they’re unable to right the ship on Tuesday, their run in the 2014 playoffs will come to an end.
Montreal fell behind 3-1 in their series with the New York Rangers, after losing an overtime contest in at Madison Square Garden. On Tuesday night, the two teams will face off in Game Five at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The higher seeded Canadiens have been in a position to make this a more competitive series, but they’ve simply failed to execute when they’ve needed to do so. In Game Four, they had several opportunities to take the lead for good in regulation. Montreal scored just one power-play goal in eight tries, failing to put the Rangers away. Martin St. Louis scored the game-winning goal in the extra session.
Failing to score with a man advantage has been the story of the entire series for the Canadiens. They’ve squandered all but one of their 17 power-play chances. The Rangers have had their own power-play issues this postseason, scoring on just 14.3 percent of such opportunities. However, their inefficiencies have been largely masked by the play of Henrik Lundquist.
New York could see the return of Derek Stepan in Game Five. He skated in Montreal on Tuesday morning and there’s a chance he’ll be in the lineup, following the broken jaw he suffered in Game Three.
A 3-1 series deficit isn’t insurmountable. The Los Angeles Kings are on victory away from reaching the Stanley Cup, and they lost the first three games of their opening round series. The Rangers lost three of the first four games of their second-round series, and went on to advance past the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game Five is considered a toss-up, according to most oddsmakers. Most Las Vegas casinos list the moneyline for both teams at -110. A few online sportsbooks have made the Canadiens slight favorites.
The NBC Sports Network will broadcast the game nationally at 8 p.m. ET. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.
The Canadiens haven’t caught many breaks against the Rangers. Not only did they lose goalie Carey Price in the first game, but they’ve been the victim of some great goaltending by Lundqvist. In place of Price, Dustin Tokarsi has held his own, giving Montreal a chance to be tied in the series. Montreal is on the brink of elimination, but they’re too good to go down in five games and lose three times on their home ice.
Montreal 3, New York 2