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While it looked to be a done deal by the end of the second period, Tampa Bay woke up in the third and gave the Canadiens a run for their money
in Game 4 on Tuesday night. However, a late powerplay goal gave the Habs a 4-3
victory and propelled them into the next round as Montreal now awaits the winner between Detroit and Boston.

The home crowd was whipped into a raucous frenzy as Ginette Reno powerfully belted out the Canadian anthem for a second consecutive game, and it looked like Brendan Gallagher might net one 15 seconds in, but it was deflected over the glass. The home crowd didn’t have to wait too long to erupt as Dale Weise fed Daniel Briere alone in front at 2:24 for the 1-0 lead. Tampa Bay didn’t look like a team on the brink, even after a Rene Bourque holding the stick penalty at 6:18 in the period, which the Canadiens killed off with relative ease.

The Canadiens had the better chances in the period, looking like they were the team facing elimination. Montreal doubled their lead through a Lars Eller blast off a neutral zone turnover at 15:21, sending some shoulders sagging on the Tampa Bay bench. The Lightning showed a little more intent towards the end of the period, but Montreal owned the first, outshooting Tampa Bay 15-6.

Tampa Bay started off the period on the wrong foot, with Steven Stamkos taking a hooking penalty and then throwing punches at Alexei Emelin. A pretty reasonable powerplay from the Canadiens before an odd bounce in their defensive zone allowed Ondrej Palat to stuff one in after a failed wraparound. It was reviewed and deemed a good goal, shorthanded no less, at 4:32 in the second. Montreal responded well with a few chances before Brendan Gallagher sniped in his third of the playoffs at 5:42. That would be all she wrote for Anders Lindback as he was pulled for the second time in three games.

Kristers Gudlevskis was tested quickly and was up to the task. There was no real threat from Tampa Bay as Montreal smothered any momentum they tried to build and outhustled them throughout the frame. Gudlevskis continued to make some big saves, raising the question as to why he didn’t get in the net sooner. Montreal continued to dictate the play in the second, outshooting Tampa Bay 29-13 after two.

It seemed like Tampa Bay finally caught on that this may be the last 20 minutes of their season, generating a scoring chance early in the third period. Gudlevskis continued his good play, denying Max Pacioretty on a partial break. Victor Hedman pulled Tampa Bay to within one, banking one off Price from behind the net at 3:29. Tampa Bay continued to apply pressure and it paid off with Tyler Johnson scoring his first career playoff goal at 6:31 to tie it up 3-3. Michel Therrien immediately called a time out following the goal.

The game then really opened up. Tampa Bay pressed, Emelin threw a monstrous hit in the defensive zone and Gallagher flew in on a breakaway, only to be turned aside by Gudlevskis. Tampa Bay now looked like a team fighting for their lives, controlling much of the play, with the Canadiens mostly striking back on the counter attack. With 2:11 left to play, and the officials made use of their whistles, which were nestled in their pockets during the period, as Cedric Paquette took a tripping penalty. And wouldn’t you know it, Pacioretty, who couldn’t buy a goal this series, tucked one past the Gudlevskis wall with 42 seconds left to play. There wouldn’t be any fight back, Montreal would go on to win 4-3.

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star – Max Pacioretty

He brought his A game all game, and could have had a hat trick. When the chips were down and Montreal needed their biggest scorer, he delivered.

1 goal – 0 assist – -1 rating – 4 shots – 3 hits – 0 takeaways – 17:48 TOI

2nd Star – Brendan Gallagher

This guy is a gamer. He’s constantly involved in the play, contributing and royal pain in everyone’s backside throughout.

1 goals – 0 assist – even rating – 3 shots – 0 hits – 0 takeaways – 14:17 TOI

3rd Star – Rene Bourque

Not sure what’s got into him lately, not sure how he’ll play against a more physical team, but man is he playing like a power forward in this series. He makes a visible difference on nearly every shift.

0 goal – 0 assists – +1 rating – 7 shots – 4 hits – 0 takeaways – 14:56 TOI

Honorable Mention

Lars Eller is another guy who’s found his game. A beauty shot, was involved at both ends, looking more like the kid we saw when the season started.

1 goal – 0 assist – even rating – 2 shots – 1 hit – 0 takeaways – 15:43 TOI

Stat of the Night

8. That is far too many needless giveaways in the playoffs. A better, more experienced team will make them pay for sloppiness.