Meeting the best team in the division with no Brendan Gallagher and no Tomas Tatar, and not enough forwards didn't sound like a recipe for success, and it wasn't, even without Steven Stamkos in the lineup.
Less than a minute into the first, the Lightning scored on a shot from Victor Hedman. Montreal remained hemmed in their own end on the shifts that followed.
The Habs were finally able to get into the offensive zone, Byron, Domi, and Lehkonen having a couple of moments while Weal got absolutely mauled by Zach Bogosian. Bogosian did eventually get called for it, sending Montreal to the first power play. Jeff Petry sprang Joel Armia for a perfect attempt on the breakaway, but failed to put the Canadiens on the board.
Once Tampa returned to even strength, Montreal spent a couple more shifts in their own end before slowly evening out.
Unfortunately, Petry gave up the puck at the blue line, and Alex Killorn jumped on it, beating the Habs and Carey Price with about 7:20 to go in the first. The Habs weathered a storm in the minute that followed, and Armia had another chance with about five left, and two more with a couple of minutes remaining in the period. Charles Hudon, Lukas Vejdemo, Nick Suzuki, and Armia were the best looking players for Montreal as the period drew to an end, but were unable to cut into the lead before the period ended.
The second period also so the Lightning owning the offensive zone through the first seven minutes. Montreal got out of their own zone a bit after that, but not to any productive end — though not without further efforts from Armia. Surprisingly though, despite their struggles to create anything lasting, shots were 15-14 for Tampa by the half-way point. Domi had a good wrap-around attempt with 7:40 remaining as the Domi, Hudon, Byron line got their chances.
Jake Evans got a breakaway but was held up drawing a penalty with about four to go. Although the power play showed good movement, it came to an end with no change in score. Instead, it was Tampa who scored the next goal with just over a minute to go in the second. The period ended shots 20-17 for the Habs, but to no avail. Armia got hit after the buzzer, and Chiarot and Weber took exception, Weber going so far as to drop the gloves with Mikhail Sergachev of all people.
Montreal had some extended zone time around the six-minute mark of the third, begun on a strong shift by Evans once again, which continued through the mid-way point of the third. Montreal went up 26 shots to Tampa's 21, but again to no avail.
Things got feisty again between Weise and Erik Cernak, and Montreal drew another power play. Suzuki created several opportunities, but Tampa again killed it off. Chiarot got a roughing penalty and a misconduct, Byron and Armia got a short-handed two-on-one, and Tampa made it 4-0 on another Hedman goal, and that stood as the game’s final score.
Armia was easily the Habs’ best player, and the young guys had had their moments, but at the end of the day, the Frankenstein's monster of a team wasn't able to stand up to the Lightning.