Canadiens still believe after pushed to brink with Game 4 loss

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Jeff Petry said the Montreal Canadiens are playing each game as if it’s their last.

If they don’t win Game 5 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday, it will be.

The Canadiens were pushed to the brink of elimination with a 4-0 loss in Game 4 at Bell Centre on Tuesday. They have been limited to four goals in four games and are running out of time to find a solution.

“We have to find a way to put together a solid 60 minutes,” Petry said. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We obviously know the position we’re in. I don’t think anyone has given up. We still believe in our group. We have to reset and get ready.”

Easier said than done, given the Canadiens’ struggles scoring. They have scored two goals in the past 187:16 since Paul Byron‘s shorthanded game-winner at 12:44 of the third period in Montreal’s 2-1 victory in Game 1 on Thursday.

Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said they are looking for any small edge to give them a lift.

“We’ve just got to consistent,” he said. “Scoring a goal, taking a lead, little things like that. Energy comes from those things … There are many things that can provoke that, and we’re going to go in there and we’ll battle and get the win.”

Montreal has made a concerted effort to get more traffic in front of Campbell and create rebounds, if not goals. But Campbell has been good at smothering primary shots, and the Toronto defense has been effective in limiting the number of second-chance opportunities.

Petry said the Canadiens’ plan has been solid; the execution of it has not.

“I think we’ve got to find a way to get to the inside,” the defenseman said. “A lot of our shots are coming from the outside, and [Campbell’s] sucking up the puck and not allowing rebounds.

“We’ve got to find a way to get in his eyes, get tips, get some sort of greasy goals to get us going.”

The second period has been significant in the series. Montreal has been outscored 7-1 and outshot 55-26 in the second over the past three games.

And now the Canadiens must win three consecutive games, or they’ll be eliminated. In their history, they are 2-18 in series when trailing 3-1; they came back to defeat the Boston Bruins in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and the Washington Capitals in the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Maple Leafs are 11-1 when leading 3-1, their lone series loss coming against the Detroit Red Wings in the 1988 Norris Division Finals.

“I think we just need to forget about this one quick,” forward Joel Armia said. “It’s not over yet. I feel like we have a good atmosphere in the locker room. Everybody knows that it’s not over and we’re going to work hard for the next game.”

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