Game 63: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

All this and germs too?

After weathering a week and a half of transactions that saw a major overhaul of the roster, following the loss of captain Vincent Lecavalier to a broken hand and returning home from a tough road trip, the Lightning found themselves decimated by the flu bug of all things. Brendan Mikkelson, Nate Thompson and Tim Wallace were scratched before the game began. Teddy Purcell started but was clearly spent by the end of the game. Word is that even coaches Guy Boucher and Martin Raymond were fighting the effects, as well as general manager Steve Yzerman.

"This is the best we could get from these guys tonight. I dont know how many American Leaguers we had in there and then these (new) guys coming in, having no clue how we play, just jumping out there. We're in the business of doing the impossible and that's what we needed to do tonight." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

When the game started, the Lightning looked like what they are: a bunch of guys who haven't played together. It's not that they looked bad but the ability to anticipate what each other would do that comes with time was understandably absent. As such, you have to believe the Montreal game plan was something like "Okay guys, all we have to worry about tonight is Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell and Martin St. Louis. Keep those three off the score sheet and this should be easy."

At 8:42 of the first, Stamkos scored on assists from Purcell and St. Louis.

The Lightning fought off the Canadiens until the 16:02 mark when David Desharnais scored unassisted.

The period ended with the teams tied at one.

It didn't stay that way for long after the intermission. At :28 Adam Hall roofed a shot, beating Montreal netminder Carey Price to give the Lightning back the lead. Ryan Malone and J.T. Wyman contributed assists.

Things got nasty later in the period. Montreal's Alexei Emelin elbowed Malone, drawing a penalty. Afterward, Malone went after him. Emelin didn't engage and Malone drew instigator and game misconduct penalties for his trouble.

"That's not old school hockey, that's pretty much hockey, I guess. I mean, it's the new age coming in where they feel that they can take a cheap shot at some one and then not stand up for themselves, that's the way they play. But I've always played, I think, pretty fair where if you take a cheap shot at someone, you have to pay your dues." - Malone

Thanks to numerous difficult saves by goaltender Mathieu Garon, the Lightning killed off the penalty and were able to carry the 2-1 lead into the intermission.

"Dan Lacroix did a terriffic job preparing them tonight on the penalty kill. The penalty kill is all about paying the price and our guys definitely did that tonight" - BoucherGaron continued his stellar effort in the third, including showing off an impressive vertical leap at one point. The Lightning held off the onslaught to earn the win in regulation. Garon stopped 23 of the 24 shots he facesd and is now 10-3-2 over his last 15 starts.

As a result of the two points earned, the Lightning leapfrog the idle Buffalo Sabres into 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They gained ground on the Toronto Maple Leafs who lost tonight and the Winnipeg Jets who didn't play, but unfortunately the game Toronto lost was to the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers, and the Washington Capitals won tonight also. So as of right now, the Lightning sit in 11th place in the conference, five points out of the 8th and final playoff spot and in 4th place in the Southeast Division, eight points out of first.

The Lightning will be in action again on Friday when they host the New York Rangers.

Game notes:

  • For those of you (us) who are concerned about sweaters and what numbers the new guys are wearing, Mike Commodore is #23 (last worn by Jamie Howard in 2008-09), Brian Lee is #15 (last worn by Nikita Alexeev in 2006-07), Tim Wallace is #20 (last worn by Vaclav Prospal in 2008-09) and Brandon Segal is #21 (last worn by Mattias Ritola this season). When Keith Aulie arrives, he is slated to wear #3 (last worn by Ty Wishart in 2008-09).
  • The Lightning are 20-1-1 in games it has led after two periods. Both games they lost when leading after two were against their next opponent, the New York Rangers.
  • Purcell's assist in the first period extended his points-scored streak to a career-high seven games.
  • Former Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau is currently hospitalized in Montreal after suffering a stroke Monday night. Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier wears number 4 in honor of Beliveau and portrayed him in "The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story", a 2005 film.
  • Hall's goal was his first since October 7, 2011 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • Blake Geoffrion played his first game with Montreal, the franchise for whom his father Dan Geoffrion and his grandfather Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion played. He was acquired by Montreal in a trade with the Nashville Predators on February 17.
  • The Lightning are an NHL-best 19-3-6 in one-goal games. They're also 19-9-2 which puts them on pace to tie the most points earned at home in franchise history (55), which they accomplished in both 2003-04 and 2010-11.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Morris Hintzman as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Hintzman, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Metropolitan Ministries. In the nearly 30 years that he’s led the organization, Metropolitan Ministries has grown from serving hundreds of families a year, to several thousands. The campus has grown from a small 1,200 square-foot run down house to a full campus that includes numerous buildings and spans three city blocks. His vision has been to reach as many people as possible, taking on more and more patients each year. Hintzman is seen as a leader and a visionary around the campus and his smile brings warmth and comfort to everyone’s life he touches. His compassion is inspiring to the people he looks after and lifts the spirits of his patients and their families. Before Hintzman joined Metropolitan Ministries in 1982, he was a Methodist minister. However, once he got involved in the effort of alleviating the suffering of those in need, he knew he had found his calling. He continues to work hard at his job because he sees it isn’t done yet. Every day families come to the doorstep of Metropolitan Ministries seeking help, and he is there with the assurance that things will get better. The families he deals with can’t help but feel comfort, with his kind words, sincerity in his voice and compassion in his heart. The patients’ families of Hintzman view him as a guardian angel that provides stability in the care he gives everyone. He is one of the most selfless people in the community, and has devoted his life to the mission of Metropolitan Ministries.