The top players didn’t score but Montreal’s supporting cast got the job done in Game 5 as a late P-A Parenteau goal was the difference maker in a 2-1 victory for the home side.
Both teams made lineup changes for this game. Nathan Beaulieu returned from his upper body injury, replacing Greg Pateryn while Tampa opted to use seven defencemen for the first time in the series. That meant that Vladislav Namestnikov came out of the lineup while Nikita Nesterov made his series debut. Brendan Morrow also returned for the Lightning in place of Jonathan Drouin.
The first period got off to somewhat of a scrambled pace, in large part to a pair of offsetting minors just sixteen seconds in for a Jeff Petry hook and a Tyler Johnson dive. Tampa Bay, as expected, got off to a much better start, pinning the Canadiens deep in their end a lot in the early going even though they didn’t get many shots through to the net.
Everyone was waiting for Devante Smith-Pelly to make his mark in the postseason (aside from his physical play) and he did just that nine minutes in, sniping one past Ben Bishop to open up the scoring. (Despite getting the goal, he had the lowest TOI of any Hab in the opening 20 minutes.)
That tally seemed to settle the Habs down as they were much sharper in the second half. The frenetic pace slowed down which benefitted the home side as they began to get some chances of their own although they weren’t able to double their lead before the buzzer. The period ended with the home side ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard and up 10-9 in shots.
The second period saw a lot of work for not a lot of chances for either side. Montreal had an early power play but weren’t able to score, though they did hit a couple of goal posts. The successful kill seemed to wake the Lightning up as through the middle of the period, they started to take more control; Carey Price had his best save of the night on Morrow to keep it tied up.
Late in the frame, the Habs had another power play. Once again, they didn’t score although they had several high quality chances including yet another goal post. That was their 10th post of the postseason, tying them with Anaheim for the most in the NHL. The score remained 1-0 through 40 minutes with the Habs outshooting Tampa Bay 10-6 in the period and 20-15 overall.
The question for everyone was whether or not Montreal would sit back and try to protect the lead. Early on, they came out strong but then wound up sitting back and it cost them. Price made a save-of-the-series stop on Valtteri Filppula to keep the led but it wouldn’t last for long. After failing to clear the zone on multiple opportunities, Steven Stamkos broke free of Andrei Markov’s coverage just long enough to bank one off the post past Price to tie it up.
That goal took the life out of the arena but an Andrej Sustr penalty gave the Canadiens a chance to settle down. This time with the man advantage didn’t go as well but again, they did have a couple of chances, the best coming off the stick of Alex Galchenyuk. Despite not scoring though, the Habs started to pick up their play once again. This time, they got rewarded.
With just over four minutes to go, P-A Parenteau clanked one off the crossbar. Unlike the other instances for Montreal, however, this time it redirected into the net, giving the Canadiens the lead. Moments later, they nearly doubled the lead but Max Pacioretty wasn’t able to bury a perfect Tomas Plekanec centering feed. That set the stage for some nerve-wracking last two minutes but the Habs were able to hold down the fort and force a Game 6. Tampa Bay led in shots in the period 10-9 but Montreal had the higher game total, 29-25.
Price was very sharp while making 24 saves for the win while Bishop, who also had a strong game after getting pulled on Thursday, turned aside 27 Montreal shots. The Habs were 0/3 with the power play while Tampa Bay did not receive an opportunity; their lone chance was negated by the Johnson diving penalty on the opening shift of the game.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Jeff Petry – There’s no doubt that he has been Montreal’s top blueliner in the series and that was the case again here. He makes the right decision with the puck nearly every time and is becoming more and more of an offensive threat as the series progresses.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 1 shot, 2 hits, 2 blocks, 21:22 TOI
2nd Star: Carey Price – This was the closest he has come to stealing a game in this series. It wasn’t so much the volume of shots that makes me say this but rather the quality. He had a few big saves while it was still 1-0 and then kept the Lightning attack at bay in the dying minutes.
Stats: 24 saves on 25 shots, 1.00 GAA, .960 SV%
3rd Star: P-A Parenteau – Saturday’s game was by far his best of the postseason. Of course, getting the game winner is always nice but he was much more aggressive and involved in the play. He picked a good time to step up.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 2 PIMS, 2 shots, 1 takeaway, 13:26 TOI
Honourable Mention: Devante Smith-Pelly – He was more than due for a goal and finally he was rewarded for his efforts. On top of that, he continued to play his strong physical game while playing smart in his own end.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 1 shot, 5 hits, 9:54 TOI
Stat of the Night: Tampa’s outshooting of the Canadiens in the third period snapped a streak of nine straight periods where Montreal outshot the Lightning.