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Cops closing downtown core for Habs/Bruins do-or-die Game 7

MONTREAL – Police are closing off a large stretch of downtown Montreal Wednesday night as the hometown Canadiens play a pivotal Game 7 against the Bruins in Boston.

A one-kilometre stretch of busy Ste-Catherine Street will be closed to traffic starting at 8 p.m. and a "festive zone" will be set up for fans adjacent to the Bell Centre.

Montreal police say they want journalists to conduct live reports in designated areas in order not to stir up rowdy elements.

Montreal hockey celebrations have occasionally turned violent, including last May when youths tossed bottles at police while officers fired back with tear gas.

A number of downtown shops were also looted after the Canadiens knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In 2008, cars were burned and downtown stores were trashed and looted after the Canadiens beat the Bruins to advance to the next round of that season’s playoffs.

There were also riots after Stanley Cup wins in 1986 and 1993.

The most famous riot occurred in 1955 when Habs legend Maurice Richard was suspended. Fans took their fury to the streets, and the ensuing damage prompted "The Rocket" to take to the airwaves to publicly plead for calm.

The Canadiens beat Boston 2-1 on Tuesday to even the best-of-seven first-round playoff series at 3-3 and force tonight’s game.

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