The Habs were hoping to extend their second round series to seven games on Tuesday night but instead put forth a very poor effort. The Lightning took full advantage, defeating Montreal 4-1 to end their season.
With Ryan Callahan sidelined due to an emergency appendectomy, the Lightning were forced to make a lineup change. Surprisingly, they opted not to go with Jonathan Drouin (or Vladislav Namestnikov); instead, they went with rookie Jonathan Marchessault. Meanwhile, the Habs kept their winning lineup from Game 5 intact.
Not surprisingly, Tampa Bay came out with some jump although the Canadiens survived the first few shifts. Brendan Gallagher had a shot on a two-on-one that Ben Bishop stopped and minutes later, Brandon Prust was tied up on what was a mini two-on-one to keep it scoreless.
The Habs scored first in Games 4 and 5 but that wasn’t to be the case on Tuesday. A Tampa Bay centering pass was tipped by Tomas Plekanec. Unfortunately, the redirected puck went right to Ondrej Palat who put a shot on net. Nikita Kucherov had a perfectly-placed tip that just eluded Carey Price’s glove hand.
Andrei Markov had one particular shift of interest in the opening frame. He broke his stick on a point shot, went to the bench, then was set up for a one-timer by P.K. Subban. Unfortunately for Markov, he broke his stick on that attempt as well. That may have set an unofficial NHL record for the shortest amount of time that a stick lasted in a game, about as long as it took to read this sentence.
Late in the period, Subban took a delay of game penalty. There were some nervous moments on the penalty kill but Montreal was able to fend off the attack to keep the deficit at one heading into the second period. Shots on goal in the first were 13-6 for Tampa Bay.
Given how the Habs have responded to adversity lately, it would have been realistic to expect that they’d come out with a better effort in the second. It didn’t happen. They were on their heels right off the get-go and were struggling to complete even the simplest of passes. The Lightning made them pay as Steven Stamkos wristed one past a screened and surprised Price to double the lead.
That didn’t do much to wake the Canadiens up; they went more than ten minutes without a shot on goal if you add in the late stages of the first period. The Habs had a late man advantage but weren’t able to get anything going although P-A Parenteau hit a goal post shortly after the power play expired. Moments later, Devante Smith-Pelly took a neutral zone holding penalty. Unlike Montreal, Tampa Bay took advantage as Palat beat Price with a quick shot to make it 3-0 heading to the break. The shots in the second period were 8-7 for the Lightning (21-13 overall) but the home team was much more dominant despite the shots being close.
The Canadiens were handed a power play to start the third period but again got nothing going. The highlight of the man advantage was a highlight reel save from Price on a Tampa odd man rush. Neither team really carried the play as the Lightning were content to run down the clock.
The Habs had an offensive zone faceoff after the last commercial timeout and they used that to their advantage as Max Pacioretty was able to get them on the board. Any thought of a late comeback was quickly quashed Tampa Bay played keep away for the next few minutes. Michel Therrien pulled Price with three minutes to ago and Kucherov picked up his second of the night into the empty net to seal the deal. The shots in the third were 8-6 for the Lightning and it didn’t feel like there were even that many.
Price made 24 saves in the loss while Ben Bishop was largely untested, making 18 saves on just 19 Montreal shots. The Habs were 0/2 on the power play while Tampa Bay was 1/2.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Max Pacioretty – There weren’t many Habs who got much of anything going offensively but Pacioretty was one of the ones who did. He was responsible for one quarter of the total shot attempts and over 30% of the actual shots on goal not to mention the lone goal for the Canadiens.
Stats: 1 goal, -2 rating, 6 shots (10 attempts), 19:18 TOI
2nd Star: Brendan Gallagher – Not surprisingly, Gallagher was one of the other few catalysts for the Canadiens. Many players loafed their way through this one but not Gallagher who set up a couple of quality chances while continuing to drive Bishop batty in front of the net.
Stats: 1 assist, -1 rating, 1 shot, 18:24 TOI
3rd Star: Carey Price – When most of the team fails to show up, it’s hard to fault the goalie when they lose. Price didn’t make the game saving stop in this one but it wasn’t a bad outing by any stretch.
Stats: 24 saves on 27 shots, 3.05 GAA, .889 SV%
Honourable Mention: Dale Weise – Although he missed on his breakaway opportunity in the third, Weise had a quality game overall. He was the only player in the bottom six to get much of anything going; I found it odd that he didn’t get moved up in the lineup when they were looking for a spark.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 3 shots (5 attempts), 11:01 TOI
Stat of the Night: 8 – That’s the number of posts the Habs hit in this series, including the one from Parenteau in the second period. With Games 1 and 3 being so tightly contested, it’s hard not to wonder ‘what if’ on some of those shots – could even one of those post shots deflecting into the net instead of away have changed the outcome of this series?