MONTREAL — Before Game 5, Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty talked about his disappointment at not being able to contribute to his team’s offense.
He confessed that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had gotten the best of him in the first four contests and that he hadn’t been able to generate the time or space to get himself on track.
But he vowed that was going to change.
It wasn’t as if he was predicting a hat trick or anything, he was feeling as if his puck luck was missing and that eventually it would find him.
Pacioretty certainly had flashes Saturday in Game 5, picking up one assist, but on Monday night he broke through with one goal and one assist in the 4-0 victory as the Habs forced a deciding Game 7 on Wednesday in Boston.
Pacioretty said it wasn’t about individual efforts, it was that everyone on the team gave their all with the goal to keep playing.
“Everyone was on board,’’ said Pacioretty. “You saw that from the first shift. Everyone was skating. We’re a fast team and when we use our speed, we’re a frustrating team to play against. We were able to do that and, no passengers, everyone played their best tonight.’’
Center Lars Eller gave the Habs the lead just 2 minutes, 11 seconds into the action. Pacioretty made it a 2-0 game at 15:24 of the second and the Bruins were flailing.
Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who was playing in his first NHL playoff game, sprung Pacioretty by throwing the puck ahead and Pacioretty collected it and moved in on goalie Tuukka Rask with Chara chasing. Pacioretty’s shot beat Rask and the Canadiens were the driver’s seat.
“I just got a bounce. I’ve been waiting for my chance all series,’’ said Pacioretty. “I’ve just been waiting for my time to pitch in offensively.
“It bounced off two defenders and landed right on my stick and that’s the way it goes. I think it was the first time in the series we’ve been able to sustain some offensive-zone pressure. That really helps our confidence as a team. When everyone is pitching in and everyone’s skating it makes the game a lot easier.’’
Ironically, he said he wasn’t even sure he was going to get to the puck in time to turn it into a scoring chance.
“I felt flat-footed and I saw the puck in front of me and I felt like I didn’t have too much speed or momentum,’’ he said. “But it was the same case for [Chara]. It was a great bounce for me.’’
Pacioretty said he didn’t have to think about what he was going to do. He just wanted to put the puck on net.
“I’ve tried to deke pretty often on Rask,’’ said Pacioretty, who receives scouting reports on his shooting strategy from backup goalie Peter Budaj. “I had tried to deke on [Rask] a handful of times, including this series, so I thought maybe a quick shot and, obviously, it worked.’’
Pacioretty said the difference for Montreal was the ability to cash in the scoring chances. For example, he said earlier in the same shift, just before he scored, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron had an opportunity at the other end to tie the game but goalie Carey Price kept it out.
“Carey came up with a huge save,’’ said Pacioretty. “Then we go the other way, get a bounce and score. Momentum is huge in the playoffs and I think our team built off that. Obviously, the fans helped out as well.’’
Although Pacioretty was frustrated earlier by the lack of points in the first five games (2), he felt he was able to build on what he did in Game 5.
“Obviously, you want to have it happen more often,’’ he said. “You want to help the team win and I feel like I did that tonight.’’
Another thing the Canadiens did was make Chara look mortal.
“Everyone’s human, you know,’’ said Pacioretty. “There’s no Superman out there. Everyone has good games and everyone has bad games.
“In the playoffs, especially, there’s so much momentum. You don’t want to single out one player, but you can relate that to my game.
“You get a bounce here or there and your confidence is sky high, so I’m sure it’s the same for everybody right now.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.