Game 36: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 at the St. Pete Times Forum Thursday night.

A sell-out crowd of 19,204, featuring vocal fans of both the Lightning and the Canadiens watched a back-and-forth battle between teams with similar records in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit to get the win, their second in a row and fourth in their last six games.

"It's extremely positive. We've just got nine points out of the last twelve points possible, last six games, and that includes three on the road and three at home. So we've stepped it up and that's also done without some key guys." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

Steven Stamkos got things started for the Bolts, scoring his 23rd goal of the season on assists from Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie at 3:43 of the first.

With Brett Clark in the box serving a tripping penalty, the Canadiens answered when Michael Cammalleri scored on the resulting powerplay at 8:42. Raphael Diaz and David Desharnais chipped in with assists.

Three and a half minutes later, Montreal took the lead on a goal by Descharnais with help from Andrei Kostitsyn and Diaz at 5:01. The period ended with the Canadiens on top, 2-1.

Montreal doubled the lead when Erik Cole beat starting goalie Mathieu Garon on a one-timer from Max Pacioretty and Tomas Kaberle at 12:46 of the second.

The Lightning rally began at 17:38 when JT Wyman beat Montreal netminder Carey Price to record his first NHL goal, which was initially reviewed by the league office to ensure that the puck completely crossed the goal line. Teddy Purcell and Matt Gilroy had assists.

"I knew as sooon as I got down to the goal line and saw it trickle across. I'm still waiting for it to hit the back of the net." - WymanThe Lightning went into the second intermission trailing 3-2.

At 2:32 of the third, Downie and Martin St. Louis fed Marc-Andre Bergeron to tie the game at three....after another review, this time to determine if the puck had been deflected by a high stick. The call on the ice stood.

Vincent Lecavalier put the Lightning back on top with the eventual game winner with assists from Wyman and Dominic Moore at 8:37.

The Lightning were outshot 34-22 and had to hold off a flurry of activity, including fending off a 6-on-4 onslaught in the final two minutes with Price pulled for the extra skater and Bruno Gervais in the box with a delay of game penalty. The Lightning blocked 24 shots during the game, many of them coming in the final 10 minutes of the third.

"It seems like we're finding ways to win games now, whereas before it seemed like we were finding ways to lose games. We had a lot of positives., and again our first operiod was a little sloppy, but we didn't panic. That was a big goal by Wyman that kind of swung the momentum and that was finally a bounce our way." - Stamkos

The Lightning's current homestand concludes on Saturday when they face the Carolina Hurricanes, a game that begins at 5:00 pm.

Game notes:

  • This is the first meeting between Montreal and Tampa Bay, future conference mates, since the new NHL realignment plan was announced.
  • Stamkos now leads the NHL in goals scored with 23. He has seven goals and three assists in his last seven games and has also tallied points in seven consecutive home games.
  • Downie now has three points (one goal, two assists) in his last two games and five points (one goal, four assists) in the last three home games.
  • The Lightning are 10-6-2 when scoring first.
  • This was the first game this season the Canadiens have lost when leading after two periods. They're now 11-1-3 in those games.
  • The Lightning won for only the fifth time this season when trailing after two, improving their record in those situations to 5-14-1.
  • The Lightning honored Thaddeus Smith as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Smith, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to his charity of choice, the Tampa Bay Dream Center. Smith has gained a reputation among his peers as a model father, which stems from a direct result of his emphasis on the significance of adoption and foster care. He himself has opened up his home to six such children who he has adopted, believing that no individual should be subject to the absence of a parental figure in their lives. In total, Smith has hosted over 90 foster kids throughout his 25 years of service to the community. The children that Smith has taken in over the past two decades inspired him to found the Tampa Bay Dream Center in historic Ybor City to help keep our community’s youth off of the streets and to give them with a safe environment in which they can flourish. The Dream Center’s main priority is to provide clothing, shelter, food, mentorship and other types of assistance to all men, women and children. Smith played an integral role in making the Dream Center possible, as he nearly single-handedly obtained the necessary grants and donations to fund a $350,000 renovation project for the center. Through his work, thousands of at-risk children and their families throughout the Bay Area are now able to be mentored, cared for and supported.