Not long ago, some unknown writer said something about the Lightning having a problem scoring even strength goals. In that writer's defense, he did say that two games was a ridiculously small sample size from which to draw such silly conclusions, plus he's probably a really nice person. Still, what a dork, huh?
At any rate, it would be hard for anyone with a rooting interest in the Lightning to find a single thing to complain about after this win over Montreal. The Lightning dominated in almost all aspects of the game. They outshot the Canadiens 41-17. They converted twice on the power play and were perfect once again on the penalty kill.
"We played our game today. We played to our strengths. I mean, we [possessed the puck a lot, we used our speed, and then they took some penalties and we capitalized on those, so it was a big win for us." - Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman
Hedman started things off at 5:24 of the first, scoring on a backhanded clean-up of a loose puck sitting in the middle of a scrum to beat Canadiens starting goalie Carey Price. Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov assisted on the play.
At 9:51, the Lightning doubled the lead with a power play goal from Steven Stamkos, his first of the night and the season. Ryan Callahan and Hedman chipped in with assists.
Montreal cut the lead in half at 12:16 when Brendan Gallagher, tipped a pass from Jarred Tinordi past Bolts netminder Ben Bishop. Mike Weaver was credited with the second assist.
The period ended with Tampa Bay leading 2-1
At 13:15 of the second, Stamkos took a long lead pass from Hedman to split the defense and score his second goal.
Almost exactly five minutes later, Stamkos completed the hat trick, getting helpers from Hedman and Valteri Filpulla at 18:14.
The Lightning carried a 4-1 lead into the second intermission, during which Montreal replaced Price with former Lightning goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Price ended his night having stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced. Tokarski would go on to stop 15 of 18. On the other end, Bishop stopped 16 of 17 for the complete game win.
"We knew they've had some great third periods, they've come back in almost every game, so we knew that they would be ready." - Bishop
The period began with the Lightning shorthanded due to a hooking call on Matt Carle at the whistle at the end of the second. They were able to hold off Montreal, one of six times they successfully killed penalties on the night.
A four-on-four situation at 6:26 saw Ryan Callahan sweep in from the left side and beat Tokarski. He was the beneficiary of an assist from Carle.
At 6:43, Ondrej Palat joined the party, scoring with help from Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman.
Capping things off, rookie forward Namestnikov scored the first goal of his NHL career at 16:55, on an assist from Kucherov, making the final score 7-1.
Of course, this is the first meeting of the two teams since last year's playoffs, something that almost everyone says is a distant memory, but then there's this...
"Obviously he (Stamkos) scored some goals out there tonight, but we know he could do that. But, I mean, our team, when we play well, like last year when we faced them, you know we were a lot better than we were tonight. So for us, I tell Steven to enjoy it because the next time it is not going to happen." - Canadiens defender P.K. Subban
They'll meet again on January 6th, in Montreal.
As for more immediate concerns, the Lightning will continue, and complete, this season-opening four-game homestand tomorrow night when they host the New Jersey Devils.
- The Lightning have yet to give up a power play goal this season.
- The Canadiens have yet to score a power play goal this season.
- After sitting the first two games as a healthy scratch, defenseman Eric Brewer saw his first action of the season as an assistant captain (along with Palat). Brewer posted one shot, one giveaway and two blocked shots in 20:49 of ice time, with one minor penalty and a +1 rating.
- In action earlier today, the Buffalo Sabres posted 12 shots on goal in a game against Anaheim, the same number as Stamkos alone tonight.
- This game was originally scheduled to be played in early April but an error resulted in a conflict with the NCAA Women's Final Four basketball tournament. This may have been a factor in the lower attendance tonight, particularly in the form of visiting tourists from Montreal.
- The Lightning honored Zachary Bonner as the third Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Bonner, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding America. Bonner began his charitable ways in 2004 after the Tampa Bay area was affected by Hurricane Charlie. He started collecting supplies for those in need and by doing so, realized that being part of a community was better than just living in one. Bonner has evolved and is now focusing on giving back to the homeless youth in the Bay area. Within that focus, he helps kids on the streets by raising awareness and supplying them with the basic essentials to live off of. The 16 year-old did a seven month March Across America that involved special projects and raising awareness. Bonner used the attention he received to raise money for homeless youth. His next endeavor is planning a food drive to serve Tampa Bay and the 10 surrounding counties, hoping to set the world record for most food collected in one location during a 24-hour span.