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Discipline will be key if Habs hope to get back into series against Bruins

BROSSARD, Que. -- The key word for the Montreal Canadiens now is discipline.

The Canadiens are down 0-2 in their best-of-seven NHL eastern conference playoff series with the Boston Bruins going into Game 3 on Monday night at the Bell Centre.

The Bruins jumped on five Montreal penalties, most of them avoidable hooking calls, to score three power play goals in a 5-1 victory in Game 2 on Saturday night, after going 1-for-4 with the man advantage in a 4-2 win in the series opener.

The Canadiens had only three power play chances in two games thus far as Boston played tough, but clean hockey.

"Everyone knows how to skate and shoot the puck, but it's more about discipline against a team like that," Montreal defenceman Roman Hamrlik said Sunday. "We haven't been at our best and we have to be more disciplined.

"It's being mentally ready. They're playing very disciplined hockey now and we want to do the same thing, but we don't want to miss our checks. We want to be physical, but also smart. Some penalties we took we just can't do. This is the playoffs and we're going to get punished."

They'll need to take care of details to try to upset the top-seeded Bruins while playing without their top defenceman Andrei Markov, who suffered an undisclosed injury with four games left in the regular season.

Montreal is 0-5-1 since then, including the first two games of the playoffs.

Markov skated with centre Robert Lang, who has been out since early February with a severed Achilles tendon, on Sunday, but coach Bob Gainey said it was unlikely either will be ready to play in Game 3.

He said Markov will need either a full practice or at least a game-day skate with his teammates before he can rejoin the lineup, and added: "I don't think he'll be available (on Monday)."

Likewise, rearguard Francis Bouillon, who returned from a torn groin for Game 2, but had to leave after only four shifts.

And Gainey said he has yet to decide on whether Carey Price will be back in the net. A shaky, rattled-looking Price was pulled after allowing five goals on 26 shots in the first two periods on Saturday.

Jaroslav Halak stopped the five shots he faced in the third.

Lineup changes are likely after the loss, with struggling centre Tomas Plekanec a candidate to return after being a healthy scratch on Saturday. In Game 1, Plekanec didn't aid his own cause by taking two minor penalties.

In recent regular season meetings of the two Original Six rivals, it was Boston that had discipline troubles, led by rugged forwards Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton, but they've mostly kept their emotions in check.

Until the 15:28 mark of the third period, that is, when Lucic's cross-check glanced off Maxim Lapierre's shoulder to the side of his head, drawing a match penalty.

Lucic was suspended for one game Sunday as a result of the incident and will be forced to sit out Game 3.

"While it is unclear whether Lucic's glove or stick makes contact with Lapierre, what is clear is that he delivered a reckless and forceful blow to the head of his opponent," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations in a release.

Earlier in the day Gainey gave his view of the incident.

"His gesture is one the league is looking at because it needs to be looked at, because it was clear and it was open," said Gainey. "I think we're fortunate that Maxim doesn't have an injury. He's able to play. He doesn't have anything serious, but it's in the league's hands."

Gainey is more concerned with his team's psyche for now. The Bruins went 5-0-1 against Montreal in the regular season and now have beaten them twice more in the post season.

He said the solution now is "between the ears" and the task is to get the players into "a frame of mind where they feel they can win a game."

"We know we're playing a strong club that gives us very few openings and presses us to be at our very best all the time," he added. "Even early in the game, I felt in our execution of normal play -- passing the puck between players and moving to an area behind the Boston players -- we didn't execute as well as we're capable of.

"So that would be the first place. To build some strength and belief in our ability to come out of the game with a victory will be based on better performance, better execution, better decision-making, a little more discipline."

Only players who didn't play Saturday -- Plekanec, Matt D'Agostini, Greg Stewart and Ryan O'Byrne -- skated on Sunday and only a handful were made available to the media.

Among them was Hamrlik, who has led the team in ice time with Markov out of the lineup.

"We miss him, as our best defenceman, but whoever is out there has to do the job," said Hamrlik. "But we know we can play better.

"The good news is we can play a lot better than in the first two games."

Marc Savard led Boston in Game 2 with two goals and two assists while Alex Kovalev scored his second goal in as many games for Montreal, who beat Tim Thomas once on 31 shots.


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