The Montreal Canadiens weathered the early storm brought on by the Tampa Bay Lightning
on Friday and went on to dominate the second game of the series, earning a 4-1
victory and taking a 2-0 series lead back to Montreal. Carey Price answered any critics he had and some imposter wearing number 17 left Habs fans scratching their heads with some skill and determination that
hasn’t been seen from him in a long while.
Price was sharp early as the Lightning got off to a quick start, throwing the body and getting good shots on net. Anders Lindback was up to the task at the other end on the counter attack as he denied David Desharnais in close. Roughly five minutes in, Brian Gionta was sprung on a breakaway, but was denied by Lindback. The Lightning seemed to get the message with putting pucks on net, to no avail, while Lindback continued to turn aside some pretty solid shots from the Canadiens.
It was real back and forth affair between the two clubs in the second half of the period, trading shots at either end of the rink. With four and a half minutes left in the period, Steven Stamkos took a four-minute high sticking penalty, giving the Canadiens impotent powerplay its first shot of the night. A too many men penalty for Montreal negated part of the penalty with 3:34 to play. P.K. Subban sent Max Pacioretty on a half-break with a beautiful stretch pass, but Lindback gloved it with ease. Tampa Bay came to play, outshooting Montreal 11-10, but with nine of those shots coming in the first half of the period.
There were a few misplayed two on ones for the Canadiens to start off the second frame as both teams lacked the pace of the first period. Two and a half minutes in, Daniel Briere drew a hooking penalty in the offensive zone. The powerplay
got an immediate jolt as Desharnais tipped in a nice point shot/pass from Subban off the ensuing faceoff. Shortly after, Radko Gudas and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves for an even tilt.
That was followed by three real great chances in a row from Alex Killorn, Stamkos and
Tyler Johnson towards the halfway point of the period before Desharnais took a tripping penalty. Montreal killed it off with ease.
And then, out of nowhere, Rene Bourque split the Tampa Bay defence and slipped in a pretty one at 10:35 for a 2-0 Canadiens lead. Montreal smothered Tampa Bay for much of what was left of the period, with Carey Price making a huge save on Cedric Paquette with 4:32 left. Montreal slowly took control of this game after a lively start from Tampa Bay during the second period.
To kick off the third, Montreal started quick with an early chance. Richard Panik on the other end forced a good save out of Carey Price.
Thomas Vanek had a chance in close five minutes in, but ran out of room in front of a towering Lindback.
The period had good tempo from both teams and was entertaining end to end hockey. Killorn took an offensive zone penalty with a little over ten minutes left, giving the Canadiens a chance to
ice the game.
While they didn’t score on the man advantage, the powerplay looked dangerous. And again, out of seemingly nothing, Brendan Gallagher, off a turnover, scored after his initial shot was blocked for a 3-0 Canadiens lead. That would be all she wrote for Lindback as the guy who gave team Canada a heart attack at the Olympics, Kristers Gudlevskis, replaced him.
It didn’t change much as Bourque tucked in his second on a wrap around for a 4-0 lead late in the third. Lars Eller took a late penalty and
Tampa coach Jon Cooper went with a sixth attacker, which paid off as Teddy Purcell broke Price’s shutout bid. Tampa Bay left the net open and Montreal tried to get Bourque his hat trick, but it would end 4-1.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star – Carey Price
He silenced the critics with what was a vintage performance. Big saves, calming presence, whatever was wrong in regulation of game 1 is in the past.
26 saves on 27 shots – .963 save percentage – 1.00 GAA
2nd Star – Rene Bourque
So, yeah. Who is this guy? Terrific game from Bourque as he charged the net with impunity all game long and played as if he was a man possessed. Speed, physicality, finesse; best game as a Hab.
2 goals – 0 assist – +2 rating – 4 shots – 1 hit – 0 takeaways – 15:23 TOI
3rd Star – P.K. Subban
Aside from getting on the score sheet, his passing and on ice awareness were impressive. This is the Subban
that Michel Therrien wants to see. Poised and confident throughout, a gem from P.K.
0 goal – 2 assists – +1 rating – 3 shots – 1 hits – 0 takeaways – 22:25 TOI
David Desharnais, has put whatever was troubling him behind him. Played an excellent game, broke the powerplay duck, looked great in the faceoff circle.
1 goal – 0 assist – +1 rating – 2 shots – 0 hits – 0 takeaways – 15:31 TOI
Stat of the Night
1. Montreal finally scored on the powerplay. While Price`s performance Wednesday raised some questions, the non-existent powerplay was hanging over their heads. The
weight’s been lifted, let’s see if they run with it.