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Game 77: Bolts sleepwalk to 3-0 shutout loss

As the regular season dwindles away, instead of aggressively pursuing a berth in the playoffs, the Lightning put forth another lethargic, sloppy and highly disappointing "effort", this time against the Montreal Canadiens. Unlike the previous game, a 3-0 win against Toronto, this time they got the result they deserved.

Ryan Callahan tries to avoid contact with Darren Dietz during the Lightning's 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night in Tampa.
Ryan Callahan tries to avoid contact with Darren Dietz during the Lightning's 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night in Tampa.
Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Images

The Montreal Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.

If the playoffs were a bus, the Tampa Bay Lightning would be a passenger seemingly content to sit in the terminal and read magazines, under the delusion that someone will come get them when it's time to leave instead of just taking the initiative to climb on board already. I'm sure they want to get into the postseason for the third year in a row - they say all the things you'd want a team in their position to say...

"It's a little surprising with this group, but I still have 100% belief that this group is special and can get it done. You know, we can't just go out there and play. We have said that all along. It has been our Achilles Heel all year. When we don't compete and we don't stick to the structure and the game plan, you are a very beatable team in this league. When you do all that with the talent we have in this group, it's special. We have the guys and I believe in them; we have to start believing in ourselves and playing for each other here." - Steven Stamkos

- but when they put forth such a lackluster "effort" like this at home, against a team that has been a non-factor in the league since November, with an opportunity to take firm control of the division lead...

"There are no excuses here. I mean, it's look-yourself-in-the-mirror time. If you're not giving the effort, then you're letting your teammates down, and that, like I said, is unacceptable at this time." - Stamkos

David Desharnais scored the game winner for the Canadiens at 9:11 of the first period. They added another goal in the second period and added an empty netter for good measure late in the third period. Canadiens goalie Mike Condon stopped 26 shots in picking up the shutout win. He did a fine job but wasn't exactly challenged very often.

For the Lightning, fans inside a virtually silent Amalie Arena were treated to Jonathan Marchessault getting in a fight and Ondrej Palat being denied on a penalty shot. That's it, as far as "highlights" go.

"Yeah, it's just not good enough. We were hoping to take a step forward after that Toronto game and we pretty much just went parallel. Didn't really do much different. Kind of played the same game and we didn't score on the chances." - Ben Bishop

The Lightning will have another opportunity to head in the right direction when they host the New Jersey Devils Saturday in the season's home finale.

Game notes:

  • This was the third of four meetings between Montreal and Tampa Bay, with the Canadiens having won all three. They'll face off again on April 9 in Montreal, the final game of the regular season.
  • The Lightning are 19-16-6 at home all-time against the Canadiens.
  • .Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov returned to the lineup after missing five games and two games respectively.
  • Montreal's Nathan Beaulieu left the game with a broken thumb and is out for the remainder of the season.
  • The Lightning honored Debra Paradis Shackowsky as the 40th Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight's game. Shackowsky, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Marjorie's Hope, PTA Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers, African American Club, National Association for Mental Illness Hernando and the Free Methodist Church of North America. Tonight's community hero has been a lightning rod of hope and faith within the Tampa Bay community for decades. In 1996, a drunk driver killed Shackowsky's younger sister Marjorie. Instead of mourning her life, Shackowsky decided to celebrate her spirit by giving back to the community. Therefore, her perseverance and strong leadership led to the inception of Marjorie's Hope, an organization that is dedicated to providing school supplies, clothing, sneakers and healthy snacks to thousands of Pasco County students. This past year 100 volunteers gathered at Hudson High School to fill nearly 1,500 backpacks with school supplies and personal hygiene items in a single night. Shackowsky's commitment has inspired many more individuals to become more involved in assisting children in need. Her legacy is to provide a strong foundation for a happy and successful life by meeting needs for school supplies, clothing, sports equipment and other necessities. Shackowsky becomes the 219th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $11.1 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.