clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Canadiens vs. Lightning game recap: Two golden minutes are enough for Tampa

Vasilevskiy and poor execution see Montreal lose by two.

NHL: OCT 15 Lightning at Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens suited up for action again on Tuesday night, moving on from the win against the reigning Stanley Cup champions by facing the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nick Suzuki continued on the fourth line with Nate Thompson and Paul Byron, while Jordan Weal took his place on the second with Max Domi and Artturi Lehkonen. On the back end Ben Chiarot and Christian Folin started on the third pairing with Brett Kulak taking the spot next to Jeff Petry.

The Lightning started off controlling the game, with the Canadiens focusing in on a composed counter-attack, biding their time and waiting for their moment to strike offensively. The first chance came when Jesperi Kotkaniemi took a shot from the right side of the ice against a standing Andrei Vasilevskiy on a pass from the rejuvenated Jonathan Drouin. Only moments afterward, a double chance followed when the forementioned Drouin blasted in and Petry turned up to take the rebound, but to little success.

The third line continued to produce in the offensive zone and eventually drew the first penalty of the game. Drouin and Kotkaniemi found Joel Armia to the right. After taking his own rebound, Armia forced a slashing call from Yanni Gourde when he was about to put the puck in from the back.

Montreal second unit came out on the power play and it generated a result. It looked that that tally was about to go the way of the Lightning, when Ondrej Palat got a solo ride against Price early on, but the goalie got the best of him. Seconds later, Max Domi retrieved a lost puck and instantly served Petry, who smacked a slapshot past Vasilevskiy for Montreal’s fifth power-play goal of the young season.

Tampa Bay tried to strike back when Victor Hedman got a free scoring chance by entering the zone between the home defenders. Carey Price managed to read the Norris Trophy-winner and stuck a leg out to deny him.

The Hedman chance lit a spark for the Lightning and saw them regain control for the rest of the period. What didn’t help was the fact that during the final minutes, Montreal could not manage to get fresh legs on the ice with the puck being consistently stuck in the defensive zone. After a missed clearance by captain Weber, the veteran Braydon Coburn scored his first goal of the season with only seconds left to play.

After the break, the game unfortunately picked up right where we left it. Kulak got a holding call 31 seconds in, and Tampa ground down the home team’s already fragile penalty kill to turn the game in their favour. Patrick Maroon found Hedman on the blue line, and he served Steven Stamkos and his quick relase. Price gave up an afflicted look, as if to ask himself what more he could have done to prevent that outcome.

The power play statistics may have improved, with five scored in the six games played this season. Unfortunately, this evens out when you consider the fact that Montreal has conceded at least one goal on the penalty kill in every game this season. It really is small margins here and there, however. Just seconds before the goal, still a man down, Lehkonen could have scored on a breakaway, but clanked one off the post instead. A goal there and, naturally, the game would have had a different outcome.

Tampa Bay decided not to waste any more time. Fifty-seven seconds after their second goal, they scored again. Palat and Tyler Johnson took advantage of a Canadiens line change, with the latter’s name turning up on the scoreboard after a shot from a clear angle. What looked so promising only minutes earlier was now a two-goal deficit.

Time for the Comeback Habs to strike yet again? Well, maybe that was only a storyline for last week. Suzuki, who had a good response after a difficult first period, tried to make his contribution by setting up Domi in a bid to replicate Johnson’s goal. This effort was nevertheless stopped by Vasilevskiy, who didn’t even care to leave a rebound.

This was a game that twisted and turned back and forth, and if it wasn’t for a great play by Kulak only moments after Domi’s chance, the Lightning would have had another one when Brayden Point tried to find Stamkos for a tap-in right in front of the net on a two-on-one.

Montreal got their second power play of the night when Hedman went to the box for a roughing. Hedman and his teammates had become frustrated by a hipcheck from Petry on Nikita Kucherov and Phillip Danault got to pay for it. However, the closest to scoring a goal on the man advantage was Tampa’s Mathieu Joseph on yet another short-handed breakaway.

With six minutes to go in the second, former Canadien Mikhail Sergachev got two minutes for holding. A little more action this time and hustle in front of the goal after a deflected Domi shot very well could have resulted in Suzuki’s first NHL goal, but Anthony Cirelli helped Vasilevskiy out with a block to keep their lead intact.

Toward the end of the period, Lehkonen got yet another opportunity in front of the net when Drouin and Domi set him up. The Tampa netminder was again in the right spot at the right time to prevent anyone from scoring on the rebound.

The final frame was a pure battle between the Canadiens and the regnant Vezina Trophy-winner. During the first few moments, Vasilevskiy managed to deny Danault, Weal, and Thompson from finding a goal. Four minutes into the period, the netminder had stopped six Montreal shots.

Two more chances were granted on the power play, but saw minimal impact. With their best offence coming at five-on-five, the home team outshot their opponents 14-6. Only one of those shots came on the power play.

Carey Price left the net with two minutes to go, but considering what was just said about the man advantage, that was probably an unnecessary move by Claude Julien. Montreal lost 3-1 to Tampa Bay, and will now have to set their sights on their next game on Thursday against a struggling Minnesota Wild team.