The team that had struggled to score since midway through their first round series with Ottawa exploded with six different goal-scorers contributing to a blowout victory. The win broke a streak of eight straight losses to the Bolts since the beginning of October and prevented the Lightning from sweeping the Canadiens on their way to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the confidence they have the ability to score to go with the knowledge they had been outplaying their opponent throughout the series, Montreal headed back home with a new outlook on the series. What had seemed the impossible task of beating an impenetrable goaltender for four straight games is now a matter of putting up a three-game win streak versus a goaltender that has shown some weaknesses in this series. Ben Bishop is not as bad as his performance on Thursday would suggest, but he's also not as formidable as his .962 save percentage in the first three games made him appear.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the United States: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter Live
Tale of the Tape
||5v5 Shot attempts for % (total attempts)
|8||5v5 Goals For||6|
|6||5v5 Goals Against||8|
|1.33||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.75|
Keys to the Game
While needing to win three games in a row versus a team as good as Tampa Bay is still a monumental task, the Canadiens will have the support of their home fans behind them tonight. With many fans having felt the series would be over before the Habs could return home, especially after the crushing final-second loss in Game Three, tonight's match is a bonus opportunity to see their team in action.
A quick goal to open the contest would invigorate that crowd and sprout the seed of doubt that was planted when Bishop was chased from the net after three goals in the previous game. Tampa Bay knows it hasn't played well enough to earn the series advantage it currently holds, and a fast start by the Canadiens can raise the volume of some of those nagging concerns about the team's game.
Proving that is was no fluke in Game Two, the Lightning's power play has awoken in this series, as Tampa Bay quietly converted on two of its three man advantage situations during Thursday's drubbing. The moratorium on undisciplined actions needs to stay in effect for the remainder of this series.
Max Pacioretty has been steadily progressing toward the level of play he enjoyed in the middle part of the regular season. While he didn't score, Alex Galchenyuk looked dangerous in the offensive zone last time out, contributing two assists and getting some quality chances of his own.
The Canadiens are now a real threat to the Tampa Bay Lightning's playoff hopes. With renewed confidence in their offensive ability and nothing to lose, the Habs have the skill, goaltending, and work ethic to pull themselves out of the massive hole they found themselves in after the third game of the series.
Offensive finish is one of the few pieces of the puzzle the Canadiens have been missing. If their six-goal performance indicates that they have located it, we could be in for a very exciting finish to this series.