Game 25: Tampa Bay Lightning versus Montreal Canadiens

The Lightning collapse in the third period, surrendering a two-goal lead without mounting an offensive attack as they fall 4-3 to the Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens defated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Saturday night.

If Thursday night's loss to Winnipeg hurt, tonight's loss to Montreal is going to leave a mark. Following the game, which saw the Lightning blow a two-goal lead while getting all of two shots on goal during the third period, the dressing room was closed for a 15-minute players-only meeting.

"We're not hungry to win and we are scared to lose right now and it shows." - Lightning forward Steven Stamkos

The teams traded scoreless first periods, with the Lightning actually outshooting the Canadiens 10-7, in spite of spending much of the period bottled in their own zone by Montreal pressure.

At the 5:30 mark of the second, Steven Stamkos solved Canadiens netminder Carey Price, scoring on helpers from Martin St. Louis and Victor Hedman.

Montreal tied the game at 7:38 on a goal by Tomas Plekanec on an assist from Andrei Markov

That goal had just been announced when Sami Salo regained the lead for the Lightning, scoring at 8:15 with help from B.J. Crombeen and Nate Thompson.

At 12:20, the Lightning doubled the lead thanks to Ryan Malone scoring on the power play, with assists coming from Stamkos and St. Louis, allowing them to carry a 3-1 lead into the third.

The last time these two teams met, the Lightning mounted a furious rally, scoring three goals in the last six minutes to force overtime. This time, it was Montreal's turn.

They cut the lead in half at 3:49 when goalie Cedric Desjardins, making his first start this season since being re-acquired from Montreal and called up from Syracuse, was unable to cover the puck, and Brian Gionta eventually poked home the power play goal. He was assisted by Michael Ryder and Francis Boullion.

"There was one second to kill and that puck was under Cedric. Everybody was fighting for it and it just popped out on their stick. It was tough to take, but at that point they were a team that has been winning and felt confident in that situation." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

At 7:33, the Canadiens tied it up on a goal by Alexi Emelin on assists from Gionta and Ryder.

And at 12:03, Brendan Gallagher potted the game winner with an assist from Max Pacioretty.

Meanwhile, the Lightning spent the first 18 minutes of the period without recording a single shot, tallying a total of two by the time the clock expired.

With the loss, the Lightning find themselves with a four-game home losing streak. They'll be in action again on Tuesday when they head south to face the Florida Panthers.

Game notes:

  • Stat of the night? Tonight's losses don't stop with the Lightning; we also lose an hour of sleep tonight when clocks get forwarded due to Daylight Savings Time
  • This was the second of three meetings between Montreal and Tampa Bay, and the last in Tampa this season.
  • This is the first time the Lightning have lost four games in a row at home since March 20, 2010. They haven't lost more than four in a row at home since March 21, 2009, the last of a six-game home game skid.
  • Vincent Lecavalier had a three-game point streak versus the Canadiens snapped tonight.
  • The Lightning honored Rob Smith as the 28th Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game. Smith, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Florida Gulf Coast Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disability Achievement Center. Smith, a United States Army Veteran, was critically injured while serving his country and is now a quadriplegic. He went through an experience that every parent fears, when his only son suffered a similar spinal cord injury and eventually died from a car accident. Since that moment, Smith has devoted and dedicated his life to volunteering, contributing thousands of hours to help others who suffer with severe disabilities. Now an accomplished businessman, Smith and his wife started Disabled Dealer, a magazine that provides pertinent and encouraging information for the disabled. The magazine has had plenty success and the reach of the publication has grown exponentially since its inception. He is also instrumental in assisting Operation Helping Hand, Paralyzed Veterans of America and many other programs, and he is determined to help re-build lives.