In front of the newest Tampa Bay Lightning members of the team’s hall of fame and roughly 30 Lightning alumni, Brandon Hagel set a new career high in goals as he found the back of the net three times in Tampa Bay’s 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman also scored while Brian Elliott stopped 18 of 21 shots to pick up his 11th win of the season.
Mike Hoffman, Denis Gurianov, and Jesse Ylonen had the tallies for the Canadiens as they did take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Samuel Montembeault was solid in net, but allowed two goals in the third period while stopping 36 of 40 overall.
The Lightning played to their game plan in the first period and if it wasn’t for some timely saves from Samuel Montembeault, they would have likely have been up by two or three goals by the end of the first 20 minutes. Instead they had to settle for a tie as Mike Hoffman opened the scoring against the run of play by scoring on one of just six Canadiens’ shots in the period.
With Brendon Hagel slow to get off of the ice after getting hit by a shot, Montreal had one of their few easy entries into the Lightning zone. The puck was worked around the boards and Darren Raddysh was caught puck watching a bit. That allowed Hoffman to sneak in wide open to Elliott’s right. The forward had time to pick his spot and beat the goaltender cleanly.
Still, that was an aberration for the period. Montreal didn’t spend too much time in the Lightning zone as the Bolts were able to maintain puck control and cycle the puck quite easily. The Lightning had 26 shot attempts in the period with 13 of them coming from the defense. It’s a good sign for them when their blueliners have the time and space to shoot the puck, and it allows for chaos to happen in front of the net.
Lightning defenders also accounted for 8 of the 13 shots that found their way on net. More importantly they scored the one goal. With most of the action behind Montembeault and the Canadiens trying to get a stick in the hands of a defenseman that had lost his, there was a lot of space in the high slot. Victor Hedman creeped into that spot and ripped a screened shot, low to the goaltender’s glove side. With the bodies in front Montembeault, the goalie never really saw it and things were all knotted up at one goal a piece.
Yes, the Canadiens are pretty banged up (and Jonathan Drouin was dressed, but didn’t play due to missing a team meeting) but the Lightning’s effort in the defensive zone was solid. They only allowed one scoring chance and zero high-danger ones. Their breakouts were clean and quick which allowed them to transition into the Montreal zone and keep the danger 200 feet away form Elliott.
Mike Hoffman ( Nick Suzuki, David Savard) 1-0 Canadiens
Victor Hedman (Nick Paul, Zach Bogosian) 1-1
It was a bit of a disjointed second period for the Lightning. They didn’t play all that bad, but they also didn’t dominate the ice like they did in the first period. Montreal did have a bit more determination to their game following the intermission, but it was the Lightning that struck first.
Nikita Kucherov had one shot blocked and his second shot went wide. Brandon Hagel was waiting for that rebound, though. As the puck caromed off the end boards he snapped it into the net from a sharp angle. Just an excellent play that was a lot more difficult than it looked.
The Lightning didn’t enjoy the lead for too long. A bit of a miscommunication in the neutral zone between Steven Stamkos and Erik Cernak allowed for an easy Montreal entry. While it looked like they recovered pretty well, Denis Gurianov was open in the left circle and he snapped an absolute beauty of a shot past Elliott. The kid has found his scoring touch in Montreal.
Gurianov had a hand in Montreal taking the lead. A nice poke check on Mikhail Sergachev at the Canadiens’ blue line led a puck chase that fleet-footed Gurianov was winning. Sergachev fought for position a little too aggressively and was whistled for holding. Tampa Bay came close to killing it off, but some nice puck movement put the puck on the stick of Jesse Ylonen and the son of former Bolt Juha fired it home to give Montreal the 3-2 lead. Somewhat fitting on Alumni Weekend, eh?
After not allowing a single high-danger chance in the first 20 minutes, the Lightning gave up 3 in the second period. Montreal tacked on another 8 scoring chances as they were able to spend a little more time in the Lightning zone.
Brandon Hagel (Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev) 2-1 Lightning
Dennis Gurianov (Josh Anderson, Nick Suzuki) 2-2
Jesse Ylonen (Mike Hoffman, Justin Barron) Power Play, 3-2 Canadiens
Coach Cooper wants his best players to be his best players on the ice and it was two of the top six that changed the scoreboard early in the first. After a failed power play that bumpered the second and third period, Tampa Bay was awarded another opportunity just a few minutes into the period.
This one was successful. Just like it’s been successful for roughly 15 years. Steven Stamkos from the left circle on the one-timer. Montembeault never really had a chance as The Captain blasted home his 30th goal of the season.
With a little wind out of their sails, Montreal went on the back foot and the Lightning didn’t stop pushing them off balance. He hasn’t been doing it as long as Stamkos has been pumping home one-timers, but Sergachev and his little shuffle along the blueline is becoming his signature move. Roughly two minutes after the Stamkos goal, Sergachev shuffled himself into a little bit of space and flipped the puck on net. Hagel had position in front of the net and deflected the puck off the goalie and in to give the Lightning the lead.
The Lightning went back to preventing Montreal’s offense by keeping the puck far away from the net. With under two minutes to go, the Canadiens only had 3 shots on goal, despite having a full two minute power play. There was a brief moment where they came close to tying things up during one of their few forays into the Lightning zone, but the deflected shot hit the post, Elliott’s glove, and then the post again before the goaltender was able to flop on it.
Brandon Hagel finished off his 200th game in style as he made a nice play to dispossess Ylonen of the puck inside the Lightning zone and then slid it into the empty net from the red line. Hagel must like milestone games as he also recorded a hat trick in his 100th career game.
The Bolts are right back on the ice tomorrow night as they take on the New Jersey Devils, again.
Steven Stamkos (Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn) Power Play, 3-3
Brandon Hagel (Mikhail Sergachev, Brayden Point) 4-3 Lightning
Brandon Hagel (unassisted) 5-3 Lightning