Brayden Point, Ross Colton, Corey Perry (against his old team!), and Ondrej Palat all scored for the Tampa Bay Lightning — dubbed this year the Tampa Bay Find a Ways — in a comeback overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens. On paper, it might seem obvious that the best team would beat the worst team in the division, but both teams have been depleted due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Both teams played their third goalies, with Maxime Lagace coming out on top with 27 saves on 31 shots, with former Syracuse Crunch goalie Samuel Montembeault making 32 saves in the loss.
The two COVID-19 depleted rosters fought hard, both showed weariness after a long break, but it was the Lightning who eventually came out on top. Brayden Point opened the scoring in his first game back from injury, scoring twice within three minutes to put the Lightning up 2-1 in the first. Ross Colton scored in the second at the end of a power play to keep the one goal lead, and in the third after the Canadiens had gotten up to a one-goal lead during a phase when the Lightning looked really tired, Corey Perry scored against his old team with 20 seconds left on the clock to tie the game. Ondrej Palat scored immediately in the overtime to win it in exhilarating fashion.
Brayden Point on the emotion that was visible on the ice after the Perry goal: “We didn’t give up and we battled back”— Gabby Shirley (@Gabby_Shirley_) December 29, 2021
The Canadiens were slightly the better team at 5v5 in the first two periods and came on strong to start the third with their power play. The Lightning battled hard and got their power play to work to help them keep momentum and tire out the Habs. Ross Colton’s goal was at the tail end of the team’s second power play and wouldn’t have happened without the relentless pressure. Despite missing key pieces to the power play unit, the groups assembled played well and were part of the difference, especially in the dying minutes when the team had a 6-on-5.
Let’s have a look at the highlights and talk about that comeback in the third. And, a perk from tonight’s game was that my good friend Omar White (@TicTacTOmar on Twitter and SBN) GIF’d the game with highlights. I’ve sprinkled them in between each period’s highlights. He catches some insightful parts of the game, and I’m not just saying this because he’s my friend, but he’s the best in the game at the moment. If you want to get into sports media, do what he’s doing (and contact us, we’re hiring!).
Lukas Vejdemo opened the scoring on a completely open net after three Bolts chased McDonagh and the puck carrier into the corner. Cal Foote covered his man through the net, but he had an awful game before and after that point, going 1-14 (6%) in shot attempts at 5v5 and being on the ice for three goals against. Joseph and Palat also didn’t check their left side for the open player.
Welcome back, Pointer. Less than a minute later, Point led a rush up the ice, kept the puck himself, and showed some mid-season form with an excellent deke and finish. Killorn drove to the net aggressively, pulling away the second checker after Point dispatched the first.
And again, it was the man of the night. This time, it was Point and Killorn working away in the corner and getting the puck out with the help of their winger, Matty Joseph. Killorn got the puck into open space, drew defenders towards him, and then found Point for what was basically a tap-in for him.
It was a great first period for the Lightning, who came away with 56% of the shot attempts, 50% of the shots on goal, and 58% of the scoring chances. They were fast, determined, and the forwards especially did well to avoid dumb, easily costly mistakes.
Point and Killorn were having a wail of a time in the offensive zone in this game. The Habs just didn’t have any response to it.
Point and Killorn are killing the Habs turnover-wise pic.twitter.com/VyLPk7Ugb3— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 29, 2021
Oh, Omar, that’s just how he is ;)
Oh, Omar, that’s just how he is ;) ;)
After failing to get the puck out once, Foote also chased the puck and ignored his guy in front of the net. Colton was there too, but he was coming up from the point and the guy in front isn’t really his man. As a result, it was Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored his first career NHL goal.
At the tail end of a power play where the Lightning peppered on seven shots at the Habs, Stamkos finally made the cross-ice pass work to Colton, who fired an imperfect shot, but one that found the net nonetheless. Colton didn’t get credit for the PPG as the power play had just ended, but he helped the Bolts re-take the lead, which was the important part.
This period was filled with penalties and the Lightning were definitely the better team on special teams. Power play shots were 11-3 in favor of Tampa.
Gallagher almost scored to put the Canadiens ahead in the second, but his chance was deemed goalie interference as he plowed into Lagace.
Brendan Gallagher's goal is waived off— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 29, 2021
Score remains 2-2 pic.twitter.com/aCZa8Loyqm
Joseph was definitely the third wheel on the Lightning’s first line, but he was out there trying to make things happen. This chance was really good if the spin pass came off.
That's some good backchecking from Cole Caufield— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 29, 2021
Mathieu Joseph was going to set Killorn up for a spin-o-rama pass pic.twitter.com/EyMAQ71fSD
Boris Katchouk got caught with a funny penalty: “throwing the stick” at the top of the screen.
Two minutes for being a good comrade— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 29, 2021
lol you can't do that pic.twitter.com/NDuHqkcBZo
Offensive defenseman Kale Clague jumped up into the rush, cut to the left, and Lagace couldn’t do anything about it. It was a good play and the Lightning just weren’t prepared for that kind of play.
Former Bolt David Savard made it another goal from the Habs defense, and I gotta say it was another good looking goal. The Lightning were definitely lethargic at the start of the third, they just didn’t have the same energy as the Habs.
Despite going down for the first time since the first, the Bolts didn’t give up, they kept pushing, and finally Corey Perry put the rebound in after a great chance and retrieval from Point. The barn lost its roof and the Tampa Bay Find a Ways found a way.
Couldn’t say it better myself, Sonya.
Dear @TBLightning— Sonya Bryson-Kirksey (@SonniSings) December 29, 2021
To the ones who played/scored/assisted tonight, All fill-in players/coaches/equipment guys/doctors/cleaning crews/security and every person in the building who gave their ALL, contributing to this W!
I am so FREAKING proud of my team right now!#GoBolts
After the Perry goal, there was no way the Lightning were losing the game, and case in point with Palat getting it done a little over 30 seconds into the extra time. The Habs wanted a call on the hard checking, but they didn’t get one. And by their reactions, they knew it was a long shot.