With the most complete roster the Canadiens had iced so far this year, there was hope to see a win tonight, especially with this being the last game at the Bell Centre for two full weeks. Fans however, left sorely disappointed.
After a first period where the Habs outplayed the Tampa Bay Lightning and dominated puck possession, they still came out behind 2-0 on a pair of goals by Steven Stamkos. Both goals were caused by major mental miscues. The first by Andrei Kostitsyn rimming the puck around the boards, out of reach of all his teammates, but too slow to exit the zone. The second by Desharnais, who for some unknown reason decided to screen Peter Budaj as Stamkos placed a perfect one timer into the top corner on the far side.
Scoring summary from NHL.com
The score sheet may say 4-0, but Vincent Lecavalier clearly scored on Peter Budaj as the puck trickled between his pads and into the net, but the officials blew the whistle first. Oddly enough even our good buddy and ex-Hab Tom Pyatt scored on Budaj tonight, but the officials didn't notice the puck go in the net in a goal mouth scramble.
Three Martin St. Louis 3) Dwayne Roloson: 1) Steven Stamkos 2)
There's not much to mention here. The team looked good in the first in spite of the deficit, but from then on the game was an ugly affair. Tampa Bay dominated the last 40 minutes at even strength to an embarrassing degree.
Josh Gorges took an awkward looking fall after a questionable check by Ryan Shannon, but he didn't miss a shift. It looked like he hurt his surgically repaired knee, but Gorges is clearly back to being an iron man. He was also the Habs' best player tonight, by a very wide margin.
Alexei Yemelin hasn't been too physical in the preseason so far, but as a few astute observers on twitter believe this is by design. Yemelin is still getting used to the North American ice surface, and he's focusing on positioning right now, and it shows. He's clearly a lot better in his own zone than Diaz, who goes for flash instead of stability. When Yemelin becomes comfortable on the NHL ice surface, the big hits will come.
The line of Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Erik Cole had periods of total domination. They're showing signs of what they can be for the Habs, a high scoring top line. Nothing went in tonight, but it will.
Gomez is still skating miles every game, and actually driving the net on occasion. He won several puck battles against players much bigger than himself.
Peter Budaj followed up his terrible outing in Halifax with another stinker tonight. His rebound control at present is a bad joke, and he just doesn't look comfortable in the crease. Luckily he won't need to play very often, and Pierre Groulx can work with him constantly while Price plays.
David Desharnais had a couple good moments, but for the most part was lost in his own zone and looked like his groin injury was still hurting him a little bit.
Brendan Gallagher had a bit of trouble getting anything going tonight against a stronger lineup. Although considering how much his line with Desharnais and Kostitsyn was struggling I don't think it hurts his chances much for starting the year with Montreal.
Max Pacioretty struggled tonight. He got very frustrated after missing a few golden chances and looked like it really bothered him.
Best not to dwell too much on this one, the Habs will be facing off against the Lightning again on Saturday in their final preseason game. Hey guys, watch out for that Stamkos guy, I hear he's good.