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Canadiens vs Lightning recap: Habs put dent in Tampa’s playoff chances

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End to end action as Habs stopped desperate Lightning

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens were coming off of a game that saw them clinch a playoff spot on Thursday, and their 2-1 win in overtime on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning felt like a playoff game.

It could have been a let down for the Habs. The start of a road trip, after clinching, against a team fighting for their playoff lives. But that is not what happened. The Canadiens held their own, and controlled the majority of the possession in the game.

In the first period, the two teams traded scoring chances but both goaltenders, Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy, stood tall and set the tone for the remainder of the game. Both teams would get chances, and the goaltenders were the reason the game ended 2-1.

Dwight King broke in alone on a breakaway but was stopped by the Lightning goaltender. The fourth line had a new look as King was joined by Michael McCarron, and Andreas Martinsen.

The Canadiens earned a power play in the second period and that really set the tone for the period. Alex Killorn took a penalty for high sticking.

On the power play, Montreal didn’t score but they did everything else. They had several shots on the man-advantage, and several scoring chances that were stopped by Vasilevskiy including an acrobatic save on Brendan Gallagher. Tampa Bay came back and had a scoring chance on Price but made the saves. Montreal took a penalty shortly thereafter but used the momentum the power play created to take control of the game.

Montreal opened the scoring with under six minutes remaining in the period. Phillip Danault pounced on a loose puck and put the rebound past Vasilevskiy. The goal culminated a period of play where Montreal was peppering the Lightning with chances, including a series of passing between Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov.

Montreal had a chance to double their lead on a busy sequence. Alexander Radulov got a shot in the chest, and was labouring, but managed to stay on the ice and Paul Byron was able to get a partial breakaway, but couldn’t muster a good shot on goal.

The Lightning tied the game up in the third period, the only way you would imagine Price being beat on the night. Tampa Bay had breakaways and odd-man rushes but it was a puck that deflected several times that got by Price.

Victor Hedman took a shot that hit off of Yanni Gourde and past Price with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period.

The Canadiens looked to retake the lead a few minutes later when Jeff Petry scored, but Martinsen made contact with Vasilevskiy and the goal was disallowed.

In overtime, there was a flurry of chances for either side, but Max Pacioretty found Radulov who one-timed a shot past Vasilevskiy to give the Habs the win.

Thoughts

  • This team is so dangerous because when Carey Price is your goaltender, you can afford to trade scoring chances because your goaltender will often beat the one on the other side. The difference under Claude Julien is that the Canadiens are creating more scoring chances at the same time they are allowing less per game.
  • The Canadiens have two lines that are dangerous whenever they are on the ice in, and as the playoffs approach that is significant. The fact that Brendan Gallagher is starting to create chances gives them a third option.
  • Montreal could have had a let down last night but they didn’t. They could have faltered after giving up the lead but they didn’t. This is a team with confidence and it’s growing every game.