Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Playoff Prospects Bleak as Canadiens Soldier on through Losing Season

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Playoff Prospects Bleak as Canadiens Soldier on through Losing Season

Article excerpt

Canadiens soldier on through losing season

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BROSSARD, Que. - The chances of making a late charge for a playoff spot are so slim the Montreal Canadiens don't really think about it much these days.

Sitting 14th in the 16-team NHL Eastern Conference with a 22-25-6 record, they are only eight points behind Columbus who hold the final playoff spot, but there are five teams to climb over to catch them.

Even a pair of wins at home last weekend didn't get them past any rivals.

"For us now, we're just trying to focus on what we need to do," forward Brendan Gallagher said this week. "There's so much that needs to go right here, all we can control is ourselves.

"If we focus on that, you can be proud of your work at the end of the day. We played pretty good the last couple of games and hopefully we can keep that going."

The Canadiens are back in action Thursday in Philadelphia, where the 25-19-9 Flyers are currently in a wild card playoff spot despite going 1-3-1 in their last five outings. Goalie Brian Elliott returned from a lower-body injury Tuesday night for a 2-1 overtime win over Carolina to end the Flyers' four-game skid.

Montreal got a boost from victories of 5-2 over Anaheim and 4-1 over Ottawa in afternoon games Saturday and Sunday after scoring only once in two road losses last week. They chased Anaheim starter Ryan Miller in the first period and used a hot power play, which went five-for-10 on the weekend to move up to seventh best in the NHL with a 21.6 per cent success rate, to beat the Senators.

But even captain Max Pacioretty cautioned against getting overly excited.

"We know the situation," he said. "We chased the goalie early against Anaheim and Ottawa has been struggling, but still we want some momentum in our game, especially individuals, to build off that and contribute to more wins.

"We know in a couple of days (against the Flyers) there's going to be a little less space out there. …

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