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Canadiens remaining confident ahead of massive Game 3

Patrick Sharp, Anson Carter and Keith Jones look at how Nikita Kucherov took over Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final for the Lightning as the beat the Canadiens, 5-1.

It was a decade ago that Alex Burrows and the Canucks stormed out to a 2-0 series lead in 2011 Stanley Cup Final over the Bruins. It was a strong start that ultimately ended with a Game 7 loss.

Now a Canadiens assistant coach, he reminded Luke Richardson of that after Montreal’s Game 2 loss Wednesday night to the Lightning. It takes four wins to close out a series, and Burrows’ Canucks were on the wrong side of four of the final five games of that matchup. In fact, Boston would take Games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 12-1, so there’s plenty of reason for Tampa Bay to pause those parade plans for now.

“You gotta be careful you don’t get overconfident, because they ended up losing that series,” Richardson said Thursday morning. “So, we got to keep that in mind.”

Eric Staal and the Hurricanes were in a similar position as Burrows’ Canucks. Carolina took the first two games against the Oilers during the 2006 Cup Final, but would have to earn the franchise’s first title after a Game 7.

Those two examples show that this series is far from over, something the Canadiens players need to believe down 2-0 as things shift to Bell Centre Friday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC / Peacock).

“The series is still a long way from being over,” Staal said. “Clearly, I remember that being on the other side. Back in ’06, it got all the way to Game 7 — and anybody knows anything can happen in Game 7.”

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 schedule, TV info]

Montreal played better in Game 2, but didn’t clean up enough of their mistakes, which ended up costing them. Bell Centre may not house the 10,500 fans the organization hoped would be allowed by Quebec public health authorities, but the city will be buzzing for its first Cup Final game since 1993.

Richardson knows his players have more to give in order to get back into the series. They have to play a mistake-free game against an opportunistic Lightning team. The Canadiens can’t even things up in Game 3, but they can take a step towards that and regain some confidence Friday night.

“We got to get to four [victories], so we’ll start with the next one,” Staal said. “But for us right now the focus is on Game 3 and playing the type of game. … I thought [Wednesday] night we probably deserved a better fate, but right now that’s not what matters. It’s about getting the wins and we’ll start with Game 3.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.