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Canadiens @ Lightning Stanley Cup Final Game 5: Preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

Can the Canadiens prevent Tampa’s mayor’s wish from being granted?

2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

2021 Stanley Cup Final Game 5

Montreal Canadiens @ Tampa Bay Lightning

TBL leads 3-1

How to watch

Start time: 8:00 PM EDT / 5:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: NBC
Elsewhere: Live

The mayor of Tampa, Florida has one request for her city’s hockey team. For her constituents to properly celebrate another championship, she wanted the Lightning to lose their game in Montreal so they could return to have the chance to claim the Stanley Cup on home ice.

Who were the Habs to deny that plea?

For the first time in the series, the Canadiens scored the first goal, and despite surrendering two one-goal leads never trailed in the game before securing it in overtime. It never looked easy for the Habs, and it was hardly their best game of the Stanley Cup Final, but they were able to get one win, and now they’re back in Tampa Bay’s home territory looking to spoil the party.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Lightning
Canadiens Statistic Lightning
1-3 Record 3-1
48.5% (10th) Corsi-for pct. 48.3% (11th)
2.43 (12th) Goals per game 3.36 (2nd)
2.52 (4th) Goals against per game 2.05 (2nd)
20.0% (8th) PP% 33.9% (3rd)
91.4% (1st) PK% 83.3% (4th)

Between that opening goal from Josh Anderson and then his second in overtime, there was a key moment — actually four minutes — where everything could have come to a sudden halt. The second-best power play in the playoffs went to work with a minute left in regulation, and the Canadiens held on long enough to hear the intermission whistle. It still seemed inevitable that the Lightning’s stars were going to finish things off soon after overtime started.

But that wasn’t the case. The seconds ticked away slowly, but eventually all 179 of them were up, Tampa Bay’s power play had dropped to third in the standings (now two-for-12 in the Final), and captain Shea Weber was back on the ice.

Of course, the plan should never be to tempt fate and give the Lightning that one extra passing lane; they’re dangerous enough when the opposition has the same number of skaters. There were some close calls on the five opportunities they had in Game 4, with a bit of luck finally going Montreal’s way. That may be the only break they’re going to get, so things need to be reined in a bit tonight.

After the Canadiens attempt to get some sleep as Hurricane Elsa rolls through the area, they continue their task of trying to win four consecutive games. Only now it’s not four straight, but three in a row they have to win as the job ahead of them looks a bit less daunting. They were in this position in the opening round and leaned on their least-experienced charges to get them past the Toronto Maple Leafs to really get this run in motion.

That hasn’t changed a bit as the Canadiens play as one of the last two teams standing. At 27 years of age, Anderson was the oldest player to record a point in Game 4. Both of his goals were set up by Cole Caufield, with a great pass from Nick Suzuki finding him in open space for the first. The second goal was scored by Alexander Romanov, his first NHL playoff goal, assisted by Jake Evans, who was also a key member of that overtime penalty kill.

While we’re on the topic of experience, it’s important to note that Carey Price only has as much Stanley Cup Final experience as the 20-year-old Caufield does. They’re both in an unfamiliar position of battling for the game’s top prize, and it’s therefore understandable that a Hart Trophy-winning goaltender would be feeling some nerves. There’s no denying that his first three games weren’t at the same standard of his first three rounds, and even at the start of Game 4 he seemed to be fighting just to track the puck. But he finally settled in as the game wore on and looked like his composed self when the season was on the line late.

At the opposite end, Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed three goals for the second straight game, no longer looking like the superhuman force Montreal faced in Game 2. The Canadiens know there are goals to be had if they keep working hard for them, and their revamped defensive duos held together well despite every member of the top four spending time in the penalty box, holding the Lightning to their lowest offensive output of the series.

The Canadiens knew the Lightning weren’t invincible after Game 2 and finally showed that they weren’t in Game 4. Now it’s a matter of proving that all over again.