On Sunday night, the Habs looked to take a stranglehold in the series as they
hosted Tampa Bay in Game 3. Although they played their worst game thus
far, they were able to hold on for a 3-2 victory to give them a 3-0 lead in the
series. The contest, however, will be remembered for some controversial
calls and non-calls in the second period.
In order to try to shake things up, the Lightning made several lineup
changes. Sami Salo missed the game with an upper body injury while Mike
Kostka, Nikita Kucherov, and Richard Panik were all healthy scratches.
Replacing them were Ondrej Palat, who returned after missing Game 2, plus Mark
Barberio, B.J. Crombeen, and former Hab Tom Pyatt. As a result, Tampa Bay
went back to the more traditional 12 forwards/6 defencemen alignment instead of
the 11/7 one they used on Friday night.
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Montreal. With
the crowd still buzzing from the pre-game festivities and the anthems, Rene
Bourque took a long stretch pass from P.K. Subban, raced in, and beat Anders
Lindback to give the Habs a 1-0 lead just 11 seconds into the game. The
Canadiens had an opportunity to double their lead shortly thereafter as Barberio
took a double minor for high sticking. Although the powerplay generated a
few high quality chances, they were unable to beat Lindback. Montreal had
several more strong scoring opportunities but weren’t able to score for a second
time by the end of the period.
The second saw the Habs on their heels for the first time in the series.
After the first few minutes, Tampa Bay really started to carry the play. A
cross checking penalty to Daniel Briere gave the Bolts their first man advantage
of the game and they didn’t take long to make it count as Palat picked up his
first career playoff goal to tie the game. Montreal had a chance with the
powerplay just 25 seconds after the equalizer but were unable to capitalize.
That’s when things got strange.
Steven Stamkos looked to have a breakaway but it was called back on a very
close offside. Then the Lightning had a goal disallowed after it was ruled
that Alex Killorn interfered with Carey Price despite the contact coming several
seconds before the puck was actually fired into the net. Although two
officials agreed with referee Francis Charron’s decision, it was a call that
is sure to stir up some controversy and discussion. Here is the play in
Things got even worse for Tampa moments later as Alexei Emelin’s knee
connected with the back of Stamkos’ head, sending him to the dressing room
(although he did return for the third). A pair of roughing minors were
assessed on the play and just as those penalties expired, Brendan Gallagher
restored the Habs’ one goal lead with his second of the playoffs, sending the
home team to the room with the lead after 40 minutes.
While the Canadiens weren’t controlling the play at the beginning of the
third like they were in the first, they were at least carrying some of the play.
That improved effort helped lead to their third tally of the night as Tomas
Plekanec sniped one past Lindback to make it 3-1. For a while, it looked
as if Montreal had it in the bag but the Lightning didn’t go down without a
fight. Matt Carle got one past a screened Price with eight minutes to go
to make it a one goal game yet again but they were unable to tie it up as the
Habs held on for the 3-2 victory and a 3-0 series lead.
Special teams played a big factor in this game. Tampa Bay was 1/2 with
the man advantage while Montreal didn’t generate a whole lot of chances while
going 0/5 on the powerplay. Price made 27 saves for the win while Lindback
turned aside 28 of 31 (and especially in the first, he made several key stops)
in the loss.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Rene Bourque – He continued his strong play in the
series in this one. He had the opening goal before most of the fans had
settled in while he was a threat nearly every time he touched the puck. He
also used his size to his advantage in terms of both hitting and driving the
puck to the net. This is a completely different Bourque than we saw during
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 8 shots (12 attempts), 3 hits, 1 takeaway,
2nd Star: Carey Price – I don’t think it would be fair to say
he stole this game but at the same time, he needed to be sharp and he made some
important saves, especially down the stretch. This was the most that he
has been tested in the series and Price responded well.
Stats: 2 GA, 27 saves, 2.00 GAA, .931 SV%
3rd Star: P.K. Subban – After a really rough Game 1, Subban has
looked much better in this series, especially in Game 3. He wasn’t as
focused on going for the big hit or the flashy play but instead played a
dependable two-way game. That’s what the coaches have been asking him to
do and he did exactly what they were hoping he would do.
Stats: 2 assists, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 1 shot (6 attempts), 2 hits,
Honourable Mention: Brendan Gallagher – As has been the case
all year long, he bounced back after getting knocked around early. He
played his usual feisty style and it paid off. His go-ahead goal in the
second was huge in terms of shifting momentum back in Montreal’s favour.
Without that goal, I’m not sure they win this one.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 2 shots (3 attempts), 1 takeaway,
Stat of the Night: Andrei Markov had 9 blocked shots for
Montreal. The rest of their defence corps combined for 5. He also
had nearly as many blocks as Tampa’s entire defensive group (they had 10).