The Tampa Bay Lightning took their 2-0 record to start the five game road trip into Montreal to take on the Canadiens. Andrei Vasilevskiy entered the game with an over 160 minute shutout streak and recording three shutouts in his last four games, but fell just short tonight to earn a point in a 2-1 shootout loss.
Ryan Callahan also made his return to the line-up after missing eight games with an upper body injury. J.T. Brown ended up as the healthy scratch to allow Callahan to return.
Montreal entered the game on a five-game losing streak scoring just four goals in that stretch while allowing 16 goals. The Lightning on the other hand entered the game on a two-game winning streak and having won 12 on their past 15 games.
To start the game, Jon Cooper went with these lines.
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Yanni Gourde - Cory Conacher
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi
Andrei Vasilevskiy started in net going against Carey Price, with Louis Domingue backing up Vasilevskiy.
The first period started with some excitement for the Canadiens on the first shift. Breaking out on a three-on-one rush, Vasilevskiy had to make a quick move across to the far side of the goal to stop a close-in shot off a pass.
The Lightning did not start very well and gave up multiple odd-man rushes through the first five minutes. One two-on-one came from Conacher covering at the point for the defense losing a puck. Coburn came over to challenge his man, who was able to pass the puck off to Andrew Shaw. Shaw roared down the middle of the ice all alone. Vasilevskiy just got his shoulder on the shot to send it over the net.
Stamkos and Kucherov followed up with a two-on-one rush of their own moments later. Kucherov passed to Stamkos and Stamkos went back to Kucherov at the side of the net. His redirected shot went wide of the net and he had a lot of net to look at. Price was squared up to Stamkos respecting his shooting ability.
The Lightning caught a bit of a break with the Canadiens being called for the first penalty of the game. The Canadiens had turned the pressure way up on the Lightning and for three or four shifts in a row spent almost all of their time on ice in the Lightning’s end. Galchenyuk ended that though by catching Gourde in the face while swinging at a bouncing puck.
The Lightning struggled to enter the zone and get set up with either power play unit and failed to record a shot on goal and only one or two attempts that were blocked.
The Lightning trailed the shots on goal for most of the first 14 minutes of the first period at one point being down 8-3 in shots on goal. A four-on-three rush by the Point line with Hedman following up created a scramble around the net off of a Hedman shot. The puck got back to Hedman for another point shot. Point deflected the puck in on Price who swallowed it up. The sequence got the Lightning tied up on shots on goal 8-8.
The Lightning picked up their second power play of the game, but it wouldn’t last long. Jonathan Drouin was called for tripping Point with less than 20 seconds to go. The Lightning second unit was somewhat nonchalant with the puck appearing to just try to get into the intermission. Paul Byron got the puck and made a break for the net. Gourde attempted to defend him and knocked him down on his way to the net earning himself a tripping penalty to prematurely end the Lightning’s power play.
The last five minutes of the period, the Lightning came back to life and started showing more of the game that we’ve come to expect from them. The team pulled ahead in shots on goal and ended the first period 11-10.
Scoreless through the first, @TBLightning forward Ryan Callahan reacts to the 1st period of play against the Canadiens. #GoBolts #NHL pic.twitter.com/vjFQxYEcrG— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) January 5, 2018
The second period started off with a four-on-four after the two periods at the end of the penalty. Brayden Point started with a rush and a nice chance on Carey Price. The puck was cleared down to the other end where Sergachev picked it up in the corner. He turned and sent a blind pass up the boards. The puck bounced off the boards and straight on to Max Pacioretty’s stick. Pacioretty went in alone on Vasilevskiy and beat him glove side, off the post and in to put the Canadiens up 1-0.
Jon Cooper answered by putting Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman, and Dotchin on the ice. After the face-off, they started a solid cycle in the Canadiens zone. After winning the puck out of the corner, Kucherov cut across the slot and shot back across to beat Price glove side. With Stamkos also crossing in front, Price barely even moved to make a save. Kucherov’s 26th goal of the season was assisted by Stamkos and Hedman to tie the game up 1-1.
Vasilevskiy continued to look like himself throughout the second period. One big moment came on a three-on-one rush for the Canadiens after Paquette got caught pinching down while covering up at the point. After a pass out to the right wing, Vasilevskiy got over and made a huge save.
The pressure in the period continued to even out with each team taking turns trading scoring chances with both Vasilevskiy and Price playing very solid games after giving up a goal each during four-on-four early in the period. The period came to an end with the Canadiens edging out the Lightning in shots on goal to go up 25-24 in shots on goal.
We're all tied up at 1 heading into the 3rd! @TBLightning forward Yanni Gourde reacts to the 2nd period of play against the Canadiens. #GoBolts #NHL pic.twitter.com/xnlFRmd0Ex— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) January 5, 2018
The third period picked right up where the second period left off with both teams going back and forth at each other. One of the best chances of the beginning of the period came as Kucherov picked up a puck after a fanned shot and had a clean breakaway on Price. He made a slick move to his backhand and Price got a small piece of the shot to block it out of play.
Kunitz gave the Canadiens their second power play and first full length one of the game. Kunitz went down to keep Brendan Gallagher from driving the net and knocked Gallagher down to take a tripping penalty. The Lightning’s penalty kill, reinforced by the return of Callahan, came up big limiting the chances by the Canadiens power play.
Not much else to say about this period. Shots on goal ended up 40-36 in the Lightning favor at the end of the period. It was pretty much a carbon copy of the first two periods without any scoring. There was a lot of back and forth action and chance after chance from both teams. Vasilevskiy and Price continued to be the story of the game with their spectacular play. With neither team being able to beat the goalies for a second time during regulation, we’d go to the three-on-three overtime.
Sometimes overtime periods can be a bit boring until they aren’t. This one started off with some excitement. The Canadiens controlled the puck early until Johnson and Palat went on a two-on-one rush. Johnson took a shot that Price made the initial save on. Price was off balance and sprawling around on the ice. Palat was all alone in front of the net and a wide open cage and he hit Price’s pad while he was prone on the ice!
.@TBLightning UNREAL #GoBolts #NHL pic.twitter.com/syG2H8REvy— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) January 5, 2018
Chance after chance for the Lightning and Price continued to be otherworldly in net for the Canadiens. The Lightning could not solve Price. The Lightning picked up five shots on goal during the overtime to the Canadiens’ two to finish with the Lightning leading 45-38.
With the Canadiens having the choice of weather to shoot first or second, they decided to shoot first.
Paul Byron... scores the first goal of the shootout. 1-0 Canadiens.
Brayden Point... stopped by Price. Can’t get it up over Price’s glove. 1-0 Canadiens.
Jonathan Drouin... DENIED! Vasilevskiy stretches out to get the save. 1-0 Canadiens.
Nikita Kucherov... missed. He had a spot to shoot out and puts it out side the cage. 1-0 Canadiens.
Max Pacioretty... DENIED! He tried to get the five-hole to open up and Vasilevskiy kept it closed. 1-0 Canadiens.
Steven Stamkos... stopped by Price. 1-0 Canadiens.
Canadiens go 1-0 in the shootout and win the game 2-1.
The story of this game was completely about both goaltenders. Vasilevskiy has been attempting to lay claim to the title of Best Goaltender in the World. Price showed in the game that he’s not going anywhere in that battle. This was a tight battle by two of the best goaltenders in the world today. It’s a shame that we won’t see these two battle each other in the Olympics as they most assuredly would be the starters for Team Russia and Team Canada if NHL players were going to the Olympics.
2-0-1 on the roadtrip is a nice start and you have to tip your hat to Carey Price in this one. Off to Ottawa on Saturday and Detroit on Sunday where Louis Domingue may get his first start as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.