WATCH: Habs fans celebrate

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    Courtesy for Rey Mena

      It was mischief without the mayhem in the streets as over a thousand Montreal Canadiens fans celebrated their Game 7 victory downtown on Ste-Catherine Street.

      Montreal police were on hand clad in riot gear to diffuse the crowd and be on standby for any rioting, making five arrests during the post-game street celebrations: three for city bylaw infractions and two Criminal Code violations for alleged assault against a police officer.

      "Usually it's the ones that aren't even Habs fans that are causing trouble," said fan Christopher Grenier, adding the vast majority of fans out celebrating following the game were there to do so without violence.

      The celebrations remained largely without major incident despite the presence of some open alcohol, the smell of marijuana in the air and a few beer cans and other projectiles thrown into crowds and in the direction of police officers.

      Outside the Bell Centre just after the game, someone put a Bruins jersey on a hockey stick and set it on fire as people began stomping on it.  

      Riot police intervened immediately and hauled it away while a raucous crowd continued cheering and screaming, “We Want the Cup.”  

      Some fans set off fireworks, while others stood on people's shoulders and chanted the names of players as police guarded stores on Ste-Catherine.

      Like many fans, Connell Maccionnaithy says he wasnt expecting the celebrations to decend into a riot.

      "As celebrations go, I wouldn't say this is tame, but it's not going to cause much damage," he said. "It's not like a Stanley Cup loss where, you know, people are out flipping cop cars."

      But Montreal streets are more accustomed to riots of victory than of disappointment. In the past six years, two riots have broken out during the NHL playoffs.

      Both following the Habs' emerging victorious in a playoff series, with one coming after the Habs swept Boston in the opening round of the 2008 playoffs.

      There were 16 people arrested that night, following a trail of looted store fronts and police cruisers set ablaze. The damage to the cruisers alone was estimated at over $500,000.

      Fans had plenty to celebrate last night, but many told CJAD 800 News they did not want to spoil a victory over Boston with violence.

      Pierre-Marc Lambert described the victory against Boston as “the best game ever!”  He predicted the Canadiens will now defeat the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final to reach the Stanley Cup.  

      Fahad Syed, 21, a Habs fan since he was seven, described the win as an “amazing experience - especially beating the best team in the NHL.”  

      Even at least one non-Montrealer was thrilled.   “I'm really happy to see Montreal win because I'm a fan of the Original Six,” said Gene Krokosz, 62, who was visiting Montreal from Chicago.  

      “I'm a Blackhawks fan.”   Krokosz said he thought Montreal deserved to defeat the Bruins.  

      “They put on a great performance, they outplayed Boston,” he said.

      Last night, Maccionnaithy says police were also in a festive mood.

      "Most of them are probably from Montreal and Habs fans too, so they're out enjoying the victory in the way they can," he said.

      As the game wound down, Montreal police officers stationed on Ste-Catherine Street were seen pumping their fists in celebratory manner.

      With the Canadiens set to continue the team's playoff run on Saturday in the Eastern Conference semi-final round, some fans warn Montreal's downtown streets aren't in the clear just yet.

      "Maybe not [last night], but eventually, yeah, if we make it to the Stanley Cup finals, you're going to definitely have riots everywhere. Definitely."

      Photos: Andrew Brennan, Dan Spector
      Video: CTV Montreal 

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