The Habs were looking to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination on Wednesday night. However, Tyler Johnson had other plans as a last second goal gave the Lightning a 2-1 win and a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Both teams made one lineup change for this one. David Desharnais returned after missing Game 2 with the flu so Brian Flynn, who was one of Montreal’s best players in that game, was taken back out. For the Lightning, Cedric Paquette (undisclosed injury) wasn’t available so Jonathan Drouin suited up for his first game of the series.
It would be an understatement to call the opening minutes of the game sloppy. Both teams were playing timidly and there were a lot of poor passes and turnovers. However, neither team was able to take advantage. Tomas Plekanec took a tripping penalty on Ben Bishop but Tampa’s power play was held at bay.
Andrei Markov has had a rough postseason to put it nicely and that trend continued in the first period. After the team failed to clear the puck on a bad bounce from Markov’s stick, the veteran blueliner found himself in a chase position, opening up a prime spot in the slot for Alex Killorn. The third year forward made no mistake, snapping one past Carey Price to open up the scoring.
Both teams traded power plays towards the latter stage of the period but neither were able to score (Montreal’s chance carried over a bit to the second). The shots through 20 minutes were 8-6 in favour of the Canadiens.
The Habs didn’t have the best of opening periods but they came out much stronger in the second. They crashed the net, looking for the lucky bounce or the garbage goal, anything to get on the board. Unfortunately, they still weren’t able to find Bishop although they did find their second and third goalposts of the night.
Defensively, the Canadiens had a fantastic second period. Largely due to their increased efforts on the attack, they controlled the puck most of the time and as a result, it took more than fifteen minutes before the Lightning got their first shot on goal of the period. Going back to the opening frame, the Habs held Tampa without a shot for a span of 18:20. However, the deficit remained the same heading into the third with the visitors holding a 16-9 edge in shots (8-3 in the period).
It was more of the same to start the third as Montreal continued to pepper Bishop with nothing to show for it. Both teams traded power plays but again, neither team could capitalize. It was starting to look like the one goal would be enough but birthday boy Brendan Gallagher banked one off of Bishop’s pad to tie it up.
Each team had a couple of good chances to take the lead but were unable to get the go-ahead goal. It was looking like overtime was on the horizon but a failed dump-in by the Habs gave Tampa Bay one last rush. Some poor transition coverage left Tyler Johnson open and he tapped one past Price on a feed from Victor Hedman with 1.1 seconds remaining to give the Bolts a 3-0 stranglehold on the series.
Price made 17 saves in the loss while Bishop turned aside all but one of Montreal’s 31 shots on goal. Neither team was able to score with the man advantage; the Habs went 0/2 and the Lightning 0/3.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Brendan Gallagher – For pretty much all of the playoffs, he has been one of the few willing to drive the net and battle hard and he did exactly that in this one. It was nice to see him get rewarded for his efforts with the big tying goal.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 3 shots, 17:23 TOI
2nd Star: Max Pacioretty – His line may not be scoring much (though none of them are) but when he’s on the ice, the puck is in the offensive zone more than the defensive one. Pacioretty was firing away from every angle. Nothing went in but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 2 PIMS, 6 shots (11 attempts), 19:11 TOI
3rd Star: Dale Weise – Early in the series, we saw the physical edge from Weise but not so much the offensive one. He was much more involved in the play and created a few quality chances.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 3 shots, 11:53 TOI
Honourable Mention: Greg Pateryn – He didn’t play a whole lot but when he was out there, I noticed a lot of good, subtle decisions from Pateryn. With the top pairing really struggling, he should be playing more.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 1 shot, 8:57 TOI
Stat of the Night: 11:38 – That’s the lowest TOI for any Montreal forward, Devante Smith-Pelly. The Habs stuck to running four lines throughout the game; that balance should help them stay somewhat fresh as they try to stave off elimination in Game 4 on Thursday night.