They know stakes
BROSSARD, Quebec — The Canadiens weren’t offering excuses after practice yesterday. Rather, they were focused on the only goal in sight — staying alive in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
With the Bruins leading the series, 3-2, and Game 6 tonight at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens said they are not ready for their season to be over.
“It’s our Game 7; no one wants to go home,’’ said forward Scott Gomez. “The last couple of games [which were decided in overtime in the Bruins’ favor], it goes either way. We’re ready. We’ve got to let it all out. It’s a big moment for us. The games have been close and we know what it is and hopefully we’ll get a couple of bounces here.
“It’s an elimination game. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a big challenge. It’s been a great series. Now, we’ve got to try to get some breaks here and there. We want to go back to Boston, that’s for sure.’’
Montreal won the first two on the road. Boston countered with two road victories of its own and followed that up with the first home win of the series.
“It’s just been so weird,’’ Gomez said. “It’s whoever is going to get that little break or that bounce. It’s great for hockey, it’s fun for us. They threw the last punch and now we’ve got to come right back and our goal is to get right back to Boston.
“If you looked at the season and you looked at the teams, this is kind of how it boiled down to. It’s two teams that ain’t going to give in and they finally got a win at home and we’ve got to come right back. The only thing we’re thinking about is going back to Boston.
“We’re all here to win.’’
Gomez and linemate Brian Gionta were red hot in the first game, with Gomez setting up both of Gionta’s goals in the 2-0 win. But in the last four contests, each has but one assist.
“We’re getting our chances, give [Bruins goalie Tim] Thomas credit,’’ Gomez said. “We’re getting the opportunities and now it’s got to happen. When you’re not getting them, that’s when you’ve got to worry. The main concern is we just want to get back to Boston. We’re not worried about what they did or what they do. All we’re worried about is what we need to do.
“This is what you play for all year. Everyone’s going to give it their all. No one is going to leave anything behind.’’
Gionta said the team needs a little more from everyone if it is to keep going.
“It’s time for everybody to step up,’’ said the Canadiens captain. “Everybody needs to be at their best, no matter what. At the end of the day, at playoff time you can’t dwell on wins and you can’t dwell on losses. You just have to go out there and perform the next night. You need to perform and get a win no matter what way you do it to extend your season.’’
Hobbling Habs Neither defenseman James Wisniewski nor forward David Desharnais, who are banged up, practiced yesterday. Coach Jacques Martin said their status will be evaluated today.
“We’ll see how they are,’’ Martin said. “At this time of the year, in the playoffs, you take one day at a time and evaluate your personnel.’’
“We’ve got the depth, regardless if they’re ready [to play] or not,’’ Gionta said. “They’re great players for us and key players but we’ve got guys ready to step into those roles and perform those kinds of same roles.’’
Gionta said the team would like to reward goaltender Carey Price for his strong performances this season. The best way? Win the game.
“He’s given us a chance all year to win and he’s going to continue to do that and we’ve got to find a way to get those wins,’’ Gionta said.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.