The Boston Bruins are looking to clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference final for the second straight season and for the third time in four years when they take the ice in Montreal for Game 6 against the Canadiens on Monday.
The Bruins rolled past the Canadiens in Game 5, 4-2, to take their first lead in the series. Carl Soderberg had a goal and two assists as the Bruins' third line continues to have an outstanding postseason.
In Anaheim, the Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are on even footing through four games. The Kings grabbed the first two games of the series in Anaheim while the Ducks responded with two victories at Staples Center to even the series.
Here are three storylines and a prediction for both games on the schedule Monday.
Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Where are the Canadiens' star forwards?
While P.K. Subban is dominating from the blue line in this series (four goals), the same can't be said for the Canadiens' top forwards.
Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Thomas Vanek have nearly been nonfactors in this series. Pacioretty and Desharnais have zero even-strength points against the Bruins. Vanek had two goals in Game 2 but has just two total shots in his past three games.
Subban and Price are the only reason this series isn't over. It's now up to those top forwards to keep the Canadiens' season alive.
Can the Bruins stay out of the penalty box?
The Canadiens have scored 13 goals in this series—six have come on the power play. The only games during this series in which the Canadiens failed to score on the power play were Games 3 and 4, when they were awarded two total power plays.
"We have to be better 5-on-5," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said to the media after the game.
The Bruins are the superior five-on-five team in this matchup, and they seemed to realize that when the series shifted to Montreal. The Bruins have taken 59.5 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts in this series, and if they continue to play at that level, they have the distinct advantage in Game 6.
Will Carey Price steal Game 6?
Really, the Canadiens' best chance to stymie the Bruins is having Carey Price stand on his head for 60 minutes. The problem for the Habs in this regard is Price did just that in Game 4, tossing a 60-minute shutout before losing 1-0 in overtime. If Montreal can't score, it won't matter anyway.
Price played well enough to win Games 2 and 4 in this series, but his team let him down in each game. He'll need to be a brick wall once again and hope the Canadiens figure a way to score at least one goal to keep the season alive.
Prediction: Canadiens 2, Bruins 1, OT
Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings
What should we expect from John Gibson?
What a great story in Game 4 of this series. Rookie John Gibson gets called up to replace an injured Frederik Andersen and instead of watching from the bench with Jonas Hiller in net, he makes the start and delivers a 28-save shutout in a 2-0 victory.
The 20-year-old has three regular-season games under his belt in his career; he went 3-0-0 this season with a 1.33/.954 split and also had a shutout in his NHL debut. There was no letdown after that shutout, as he stopped 36 shots in a 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks two nights later that clinched the Pacific Division for the Ducks. Coach Bruce Boudreau said, per Corey Masisak of NHL.com:
Quite frankly, with the San Jose game to me, which was for first place in the division and really important, he came in as cool as a cucumber...We thought at that point that we could start him [in Game 1 of the first round]. I didn't really want to jump the gun because these two guys had been with us the whole year and done a great job. The confidence I have in this young man is great. I knew he was going to do a good job.
Gibson is a great unknown right now, but it looks as if Boudreau has hitched his wagon to the 2011 second-round pick for the rest of this series.
Are the Kings becoming road warriors?
Since getting waxed in Games 1 and 2 by the San Jose Sharks during the first round by a combined 13-5, the Kings are 4-0 away from Staples Center. They outscored the Sharks 8-1 in Games 5 and 7 of that series and won Games 1 and 2 of this series against the Ducks by a 6-3 total.
This is an experienced Kings team that knows how to win in the playoffs and seems to thrive under high-pressure situations. This isn't a must-win, as the Kings proved they can rally from any deficit in the first round, but a back-to-the-wall mentality combined with a hostile environment just might be what the Kings need.
Will the Ducks' power play deliver again?
A big reason the Ducks are back in this series is their power play, which went 3-of-5 during the two victories in Los Angeles. Overall, they are 4-of-9 on the power play over their past three games. The 22-year-old Sami Vatanen helped set up the Ducks' second goal of Game 4.
The Ducks are 5-1 this postseason when scoring a power-play goal and 1-3 when they fail to convert. The power play is especially important for the Ducks, as the Kings have had the edge at five-on-five in this series, a fact that was evident for all to see when they held the Ducks to three shots over the final 40 minutes of Game 4.
If the Ducks can make the most of their man-advantage situations, they may be looking at their third straight win of this series.
Prediction: Kings 3, Ducks 1
Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.
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