OTTAWA - The Montreal Canadiens could be armed with reinforcements for Game 3 Sunday night.
Captain Brian Gionta, out with an undisclosed upper body injury, and winger Max Pacioretty (the same issue) will both be game-time decisions as the Habs prepare to meet the Ottawa Senators with the series tied 1-1 at Scotiabank Place.
Gionta was on the ice for the morning skate and he would be the more likely of the duo to return. Pacioretty didn't take the skate and many are doubtful he will play. The Habs have a chance to get the upper hand in the series with a victory.
Montreal is coming off a 3-1 win Game 2 Friday.
"In the playoffs you know you've got to play hard, be intense and disciplined. They're all big games," said coach Michel Therrien Sunday. "Consistency. We've got to make sure that we're doing the same thing."Eller visits Habs
The Canadiens players got a chance to visit with injured forward Lars Eller Saturday before they made the trip to Ottawa.
He dropped by the club's practice facility to visit with his teammates and they were happy to see him.
"It was nice to see him. All our guys saw him," said Therrien. "He looks good ... He did look better before.
"It was just nice to see him. You could tell our guys care about him. He's a good kid. It's nice to know he's out of the hospital and it's nice he was capable to see the team at the rink."
Eller is recovering from a concussion plus facial and dental issues after getting hit by defenceman Eric Gryba in Game 1.Senators making changes
The Senators will have a new look in Game 3.
Coach Paul MacLean wouldn't confirm, but admitted the Senators are contemplating changes. Judging by the skate, winger Cory Conacher - a healthy scratch in Game 2 - will be in the lineup for winger Guillaume Latendresse.
Latendresse didn't have a strong effort in 3-1 loss Friday.
After watching a game, Conacher is determined to chip in with some offence.
"It's always tough for coaches to make changes," said Conacher. "They just wanted to add a little bit of physical presence into the lineup. He's a loyal coach and he's a guy you've got to understand his decisions and I completely understood it.
"Just watching, it's good for young players like me, to maybe sit out and watch a game. Just to see what you see on the ice, where the open spots are. It really helps for learning. That's how I took it. Hopefully, tonight, I can be a difference on the ice and maybe put a goal in the net or be a presence."
Captain Daniel Alfredsson along with wingers Milan Michalek and Colin Greening weren't on the ice at the skate, but MacLean said they're all available. Defenceman Andre Benoit will likely be scratched and replaced by Patrick Wiercioch.No place like home?
The Senators are looking forward to getting this series back to Scotiabank Place.
But, they haven't had a whole lot of recent success here.
The Senators have lost eight of their last nine playoff games at home. The last victory was in Game 4 vs. the Rangers last spring when Kyle Turris scored the winning goal. Ottawa lost Game 6 at home and dropped the series in Game 7 in New York.
Still, the Senators have confidence.
"We're in a good position getting a split in Montreal," said centre Zack Smith. "We've got home ice and it's nice to be here in front of our own crowd.
"It could be as loud as we've seen it in few years. It's exciting. We always have good rivalries and they tend to have some fans here. They always have good support. We know our fans are going to be there. It's going to be electric."
Winger Chris Neil said this is comparable to the Battle of Ontario.
"Coming back here is exciting. This is what you play for, to get into the playoffs. Now that we're here, we want to do some damage," said Neil.
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