Canadiens don't want to go down 2-0

Updated: April 27, 2004, 3:20 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Montreal Canadiens want to eliminate turnovers and create traffic in front of the net.

They hope to parlay that approach in a victory that would even their Eastern Conference semifinal series Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Canadiens addressed both tactics at practice Saturday, hours after losing 4-0 in Game 1.

"We didn't execute what we were supposed to execute," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "That's why we didn't play well.

"The team we're playing against, they force you into making mistakes. They're good at it. When you do turn the puck over, they've got the type of team that can make you pay for it."

Montreal was outshot 34-21 in the loss. Vincent Lecavalier had two goals and an assist, and Martin St. Louis added three assists for the Lightning.

"We came out real flat," Montreal defenseman Craig Rivet said. "It seems like we were one step behind them. We'll put that one behind us, no big deal. We're looking to be a better team for next game and I think that we will be."

The Canadiens also need to find a way to score on goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, 5-1 in the postseason with four shutouts. Blocking his view on shots and deflections could be a key.

"When you don't score any goals, you've got to come up with something," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "He's seeing the puck well right now, but that's the challenge that we have. We have to find a way."

The Lightning plan to continue playing their aggressive style, which propelled them to the Eastern Conference's best record.

"I think we need to keep playing our game," Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle said.

Montreal played poorly in dropping a 3-0 decision to Boston in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The Canadiens fell behind three games to one before winning the final three games of that series.

Sunday's game is not a must-win situation, but the Canadiens understand its importance.

"We've been there, but you don't want to get down by two games," Koivu said. "We know we didn't play well in the first game and didn't have the intensity where we have to be. I don't think we were anywhere near where we can be or where we have to be to win some of these games."

Tampa Bay anticipates a tough test in Game 2.

"They responded well in that Boston series," St. Louis said. "I know they are definitely bringing their best. We have to match that and more."

The series shifts to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.

"Our guys understand this is a series," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "It's a long series."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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