The Lightning visited Montreal and picked up a 4-1 win on the first night of a road back to back. Tomorrow will be a challenge on a quick turnaround with the backup goaltender so getting points tonight was important.
Steven Stamkos scored two goals. Andrei Vasilevskiy was a brick wall. Yanni Gourde celebrated his new contract. And JT Miller joined the party with the prettiest goal he’s scored in a Lightning uniform.
The game started poorly for the Lighnting. They allowed a goal less than a minute into the game. Mikhail Sergachev attempted to clear the puck but instead turned it over to Max Domi along the wall. Cedric Paquette was in the area but couldn’t do anything to deter Domi. The Montreal center skated in freely on Vasilevskiy and beat him to open the scoring.
Things continued to go poorly for the Bolts as Yanni Gourde took an interference penalty two minutes into the game. The Canadiens applied pressure but the Lightning penalty kill did enough to keep them from scoring. Montreal had their chances but Vasilevskiy was up to the task.
After the penalty, the two teams exchanged rush chances with Brayden Point nearly beating Carey Price followed by the Canadiens countering with a chance of their own. Point’s shot was the most dangerous chance for the Lightning early in the game.
From there, Montreal controlled the next eight minutes of play. Tampa couldn’t sustain any pressure and was reduced to defense only. Vasilevskiy made a couple of tough saves to keep the lead at one. But for such an extended period of pressure, the Habs generated relatively few dangerous chances.
The game turned on a poor decision by Canadiens forward Nicolas Deslauriers. He boarded Ryan McDonagh on a nothing play behind the net and gave the Lightning a power play. They took advantage with Steven Stamkos beating price as the penalty expired.
The sequence started and ended with a Stamkos shot. In between, JT Miller grabbed a rebound and threw a shot toward Price. Nikita Kucherov collected the puck and slid it across the slot to Stamkos for a clean finish.
After the goal, Tampa took over for the rest of the period. They nearly scored shortly after the penalty when Anthony Cirelli deflected a Dan Girardi shot off the crossbar.
The second goal came on an excellent play by Anton Stralman. He deflected an attempted pass by Charles Hudon out of the air at the offensive blue line. It landed perfectly for JT Miller who take a few strides and beat Price with the best shot he’s taken since he joined the team last year.
The Bolts kept up the pressure for the remainder of the period. They didn’t generate any more threatening chances but entered the second intermission dictating the pace on the road.
After the Lightning’s strong close to the first period, Montreal reclaimed control of the the game for the entirety of the second period. They spent lots of time in the offensive zone and applied pressure for the bulk of the second twenty minutes.
Their first big chance to get even on the scoreboard came with a power play eight minutes into the period. Tampa’s third line was having one of the team’s best shifts of the period when Mathieu Joseph got overzealous trying to recover the puck and extend the shift. He committed a holding penalty and put the Habs on the advantage.
Montreal applied plenty of pressure but couldn’t hit the back of the net. The last thirty seconds of the penalty got dicey after Braydon Coburn blocked a Jonathan Drouin shot. Coburn was barely able to remove for the remainder of the penalty kill but did enough to thwart a chance in front of Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning’s best chance of the period came as the penalty kill ended. Mathieu Joseph exited the box and Ryan McDonagh hit him with a perfect stretch pass to send him on a breakaway. The snakebit rookie couldn’t beat Price and the score stayed 2-1 in favor of the Lightning.
The period continued after that chance much as it had before. Montreal tilted the ice in their favor and the Bolts were left to focus on defending. Mikhail Sergachev made an excellent play to shut down a rush opportunity by attacking the puck carrier at the blue line and neutralizing the play.
The star of the period for Tampa was Andrei Vasilevskiy. He held Montreal scoreless despite facing eighteen shots on goal. His excellent work continued as the Habs drew another penalty late in the period. This time, Coburn tripped Drouin. Despite keeping the puck in the zone for most of the penalty, the Habs weren’t able to tie the game. The Lightning penalty kill bent but didn’t break.
At the end of the second period, the Lightning had the lead but weren’t in control of the game. Montreal was dictating play and it appeared the Bolts would need to push back if they wanted to maintain their lead.
That changed in the opening minute of the third period when Stamkos gave the Lightning a two-goal cushion roofing a shot on the rush following a feed from Kucherov.
That goal was his second of the night. After a rough night on Thursday that included a couple of poor decisions that led to goals for Nashville, the Captain responded with a strong effort helping carry the team to a victory.
After the goal, Montreal continued to control the game but never seemed particularly threatening and the two-goal lead gave the Lightning some breathing room. With 12:30 left in the period, the Bolts went on the power play after Tomas Tatar committed a holding penalty. Tampa didn’t generate much on the power play and the best chance came after the penalty was over on a shot from Brayden Point.
Over the next few minutes, Vasilevskiy took over the game. He made several difficult saves to keep the Canadiens off the scoreboard and maintain the lead. He’s had some rough games at 5v5 this season but he was a star tonight. The Lightning have him and Stamkos to thank primarily for this win.
With seven minutes left, the Bolts went on the power play one more time. They didn’t get much again with the advantage but continued to maintain the puck in the offensive zone for an extended period after the penalty expired. That stretch of dominance ended in a Yanni Gourde goal from a Point rebound. That’s quite a way for him to celebrate his new contract in his home province.
Montreal would get one final power play with three minutes left but couldn’t do anything with it and the Lightning won the game 4-1.
The Bolts lost a game on Thursday where they deserved a better fate. They probably didn’t deserve a three-goal victory tonight but they played well enough to win and this evens out the bad luck they experienced against Nashville.
The team now has nine wins in their first thirteen games and earned an important two points on the front half of a road back to back. They head to Ottawa tomorrow to face a Senators team that was blasted by the Sabres this afternoon 9-2.