Brayden Point scored the only goal in the shootout on Antti Niemi and Andrei Vasilevskiy made an unbelievable save on Charles Hudon to clinch the game.
Niemi was great for the second game in a row, making 36 saves in a losing effort including six in overtime. Vasilevskiy made 29 saves of his own.
The Canadiens opened the scoring 8:52 into the game when Byron Froese tipped in a Jordie Benn point shot.
The Lightning then got the tying goal when Brayden Point beat Niemi with a perfect shot as Mikhail Sergachev pulled both Benn and Joe Morrow away from Point.
Shortly after that goal, Steven Stamkos took exception to a hit by Karl Alzner on Nikita Kucherov and went after the Canadiens defenceman. The two tangled around for a while and threw a couple of punches before the officials stepped in.
Stamkos ended up with an instigator penalty and a 10 minute misconduct in addition to matching fighting majors with Alzner.
Near the end of the period, Brendan Gallagher and Victor Hedman took a fighting major. Their animosity boiled over after Hedman took exception to a check earlier in the game. Neither the Alzner or the Gallagher check were penalized.
Just over seven minutes into the second period, the Lightning took the lead when Nikita Kucherov fired a slap shot one-timer from the circle past Niemi. It was Kucherov’s 33rd goal on the season.
The Habs would fight back with a goal of their own. Joe Morrow took a pretty feed from Charles Hudon and fired a snap shot off the post and in past Vasilevskiy to tie the game at 2-2.
Niemi stood tall with a couple of big saves to keep the game tied and then on a power play, Max Pacioretty put home a rebound on a perfect one-timer to give the Canadiens a 3-2 lead with under four minutes to go in the period.
Vasilevskiy made a couple of big saves in the final minute of the period, stopping Pacioretty and Paul Byron on breakaways.
Early in the third period, on a power play, just after a five-on-three turned into a five-on-four, Kucherov once again took over, skating the puck around the zone and firing a wrist shot on net that was tipped by Ryan Callahan.
Both teams would trade chances back and forth in the third period as the game did open up but both goaltenders were up to the task when their defence was not. Even in overtime, chances would come but both goaltenders were great and sent the game to a shootout, where they would stop all but one shot.
- Victor Mete was great again. He played 19:06 and had a Corsi of 62.5% at even strength. He also made a great play in overtime to set up Artturi Lehkonen but Vasilevskiy made the save.
Of note, Noah Juulsen played over 21 minutes, and while he didn’t have the best Corsi (a team worst 22%), he was trusted against the Kucherov line and Kucherov’s scoring only came on the power play. Juulsen played more than any defenceman other than Jeff Petry in only his second NHL game.
- This game showed that despite their flaws, the Canadiens can still play with the league’s best. It seems like no matter what Montreal or Tampa Bay’s record are, the games will always be close and that is the true sign of a rivalry. The two first period fights proved that as well.
- This is the last game before the Trade Deadline and with Tomas Plekanec held out to make sure he’s healthy for a trade, it could be the final game in a Canadiens uniform for other players. The lineup could be different come Monday night after the deadline passes.