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Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban, left, Carey Price, middle, and Tomas Plekanec celebrate their 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 on Saturday in Montreal. Prior to Saturday, only five Canadiens teams had ever won Game 4 after going down 0-3 – and none of them extended the series beyond five games.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

So it's back to Florida's Gulf Coast for the Montreal Canadiens.

Maybe they had a group dinner reservation for Game 6 and were just committed to honouring it.

"Ocean Prime," winger Max Pacioretty said. "I really enjoyed my steak the last time we were there."

He was kidding – hockey players are too superstitious to book tables for games that have "if necessary" next to them in italics – although there should be time for grilled eats of all provenance on this bonus road trip.

The Habs were down 3-0 to Tampa Bay as recently as four days ago – and riding low in the water.

After beating the Lightning 2-1 on Saturday, they are confident they can become only the fifth team in NHL history – and the third in five years – to win four straight after facing elimination.

Tampa remains a daunting opponent and the heavy favourite to win the series on home ice Tuesday night. They also haven't lost three straight all year. But Montreal has plainly found another gear since being blown out in Game 2.

And they've already done one better than any other Habs edition of the past 105 years: Prior to Saturday, only five Canadiens squads had ever won Game 4 after going down 0-3 – and none of them extended the series beyond five games.

How is this even possible?

Having Carey Price at his intractable best certainly doesn't hurt. In Game 5 he was beaten only once – on a Steven Stamkos rebound chance – and made a thoroughly ridiculous glove save on Valtteri Filppula in the third. But there's more to it than that.

Head coach Michel Therrien raised eyebrows last week when he said after losing Game 3 that there weren't many adjustments needed to his game plan.

It turns out he was right.

Mostly, the players say, the turnaround has to do with sharper passing and a more attentive execution of the game plan.

Therrien may not favour the most captivating style in the NHL, but it's effective when deployed smartly.

"If we can't force turnovers, then it looks like we never have the puck. A lot of things start with our fore-check, but you can't just put it all on the forwards," defenceman and provocateur P.K. Subban said after Game 5.

When the defence moves the puck quickly and effectively, the forwards can play with more speed and get to pucks first, disrupting attacking teams such as Tampa.

"When we're playing our system the way we want to, we should be forcing turnovers. And when we are forcing turnovers, there's not a team in this league, I think, that can play with us," Subban added. "When we're not, we're going to be in trouble. … Carey's a great hockey player, but he's human."

The Habs' power play, which has been a detriment all season, has also awoken since Therrien moved Andrei Markov off the first wave and put Jeff Petry with Subban.

The adjustment has given Subban more freedom to roam, and though the man advantage has scored only once in the series, it has looked potent and generated chances.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper referenced the Montreal power play after Game 5, saying it was effective enough to sap his team's positive momentum in the game.

The Habs have also been seeking to exploit the middle of the ice, activating their defence so they can support the attack on central drives and create more chaos around Tampa goalie Ben Bishop.

The offshoot is the Habs have scored the first goal in each of the past two games (after failing to do so in seven of their first nine playoff games) from plays that traversed the middle of the Tampa zone.

The late game winner on Saturday was scored by Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau on a quick shot from the high slot, a spot from which he had cranked a shot off the post in the second.

"We've been having success in that little zone of the ice – it's generating. So when I saw the puck come to P.K., I thought I should go there and try to get open," said Parenteau, who was set up by a sensational Subban fake-and-deke at the offensive blueline that bamboozled both Alex Killorn and Stamkos, who had thrown a blind pass up the boards.

Pacioretty said the expectation is the Tampa defence will yield more of those kinds of chances as it wears down over a long series.

Tampa may well be the fastest team in the league, but that doesn't mean Montreal isn't quick enough to wear them out.

It's also true that Bishop has been generous in the past couple of games.

Prior to Game 5, he vowed to let his play answer Subban's words (the blueliner had suggested Bishop has been "sitting on a horseshoe at times"), but in the end it didn't.

Subban, who grappled with his boyhood pal Stamkos after the final horn, said he expects Bishop "to be a lot better" on Tuesday.

Psychological gamesmanship is a two-way street, of course. Cooper said his team doesn't fear Price, whose numbers against Tampa are "very pedestrian."

Subban often delivers his strongest performances after making transgressive statements – almost no one in hockey trash-talks in public any more – and bristled when was asked if he worried about providing bulletin-board fodder.

"I'm on the ice, so someone can address it. … I'm here, I'm not hiding from anybody," he said.

On second thought, it appears the Habs aren't going to Florida for fun at all.