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Habs deliver clutch victory

AP

Old rivals Montreal and Boston are going to another Game 7.

The Canadiens kept up a strong pace and produced their best effort of the playoffs and Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist and Carey Price made 26 saves in a 4-0 victory on Monday night over the Bruins that staved off elimination.

The Eastern Conference semifinal series is tied 3-3 going into Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston.

“It’s sudden death now,” Pacioretty said. “Everything in the past will be forgotten once Game 7 rolls around.

“They like playing in their building. We have to find a way to come out the same. We’re a frustrating team when everyone’s skating like that and everyone’s on board. We have to find a way to do that again.”

Pacioretty, who had only one assist in the first five games, scored and set up Thomas Vanek’s goal in the second period. Lars Eller scored in the first for Montreal and Vanek added his second of the game into an empty net with 3:56 left.

“I was just waiting for my time to pitch in offensively,” Pacioretty said. “Obviously you wanted it to happen more often in the playoffs. But I feel confident. You want to feel you’re helping the team win and I think I did that.”

It is the same scenario as the previous time the teams met in the postseason in 2011, when the Canadiens won at home to force a Game 7. That year, they lost the decisive first-round game in overtime and Boston went on to win the Stanley Cup. It is the 34th time overall the teams have faced each other in the playoffs.

The game turned in the second period after Montreal, leading 1-0, held off a fierce Boston attack through a pivotal stretch without a whistle. It included killing a minor penalty to P.K. Subban and was highlighted by a Price stop at the doorstep on Milan Lucic.

Defensemen Mike Weaver and Josh Gorges shared a nearly three-minute shift in the midst of it.

“You’re just buying time,” Weaver said. “I think guys at that point, you’ve just got to be positionally sound. You can’t be chasing all over the ice.”

Not long after, rookie Nathan Beaulieu threw a pass up the middle that Pacioretty chased down and went in alone to score.

Boston coach Claude Julien felt that stretch was his team’s best chance to make a game of it.

“The second goal probably hurt us the most because we were spending a lot of time in their end and we had some great chances to tie the game, but that kind of turned the tide around,” Julien said. “I didn’t like the way they got their goals tonight. . . .”

Asked what he expects from Game 7, Julien said: “I expect us to win.”

When Montreal coach Michel Therrien was asked the same question, he said: “Anything can happen in a Game 7. That’s the beauty of it.”

Ducks 4, Kings 3

In Anaheim, John Gibson was outstanding in his second career playoff start, and Devante Smith-Pelly scored two goals 1:23 apart in the second period of the Ducks’ victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5, putting Anaheim up 3-2 in the second-round series.

The 43-year-old winger Teemu Selanne is older than Gibson and Smith-Pelly combined, but the Finnish Flash knows the kids are why the Ducks are in position to finish off their Southern California rivals in Game 6 on Wednesday after a raucous meeting at Honda Center.

“They answered the bell again,” said Selanne, who had a sublime assist on Smith-Pelly’s first goal. “Devo has all the tools. Gibby is rock-solid. They’re pretty special players, and they both took care of it for us tonight. You need special contributions from everybody to do what we’re trying to do.”

Nick Bonino and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for Anaheim, which jumped out to a three-goal lead in the second period and hung on behind their rookie goalie, earning the first home victory by either team in the series.

Smith-Pelly is Anaheim’s unlikely leader with five postseason goals after a superbly energetic effort in Game 5. He has three goals in the past two games, capitalizing on his promotion to the Ducks’ top line with captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry after scoring just two goals in his 19 regular-season appearances for Anaheim.

“We’re just having a lot of fun,” Smith-Pelly said. “This is what you dream about, playing in the playoffs.”