Late rally propels Lightning over Canadiens, 3-2
Corey Perry ties it and Ondrej Palat wins it.
It’s hard to win a game in the NHL when you only show up for roughly twenty minutes. Yet, here we are. The Tampa Bay Lightning turned a 2-1 deficit with less than three minutes to go in the game into a 3-2 victory against the struggling Montreal Canadiens. Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat scored less than two minutes apart in the third period to turn the tide. Pat Maroon had the game-opening goal while Nick Suzuki and Mike Hoffman scored for the Habs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 21 saves in his return to action including a key stop on Artturi Lehkonen on a breakaway in the final frame. Jake Allen stopped 24 shots for the Canadiens while his teammates blocked 21 shots in front of him.
In recent games the Lightning haven’t had the best of starts. The entire first period against Boston was a disaster and Philly outplayed them for the first seven to eight minutes before spitting the bit. Not much was different against the Canadiens. Early play favored the home team as they racked up the early shot lead. There weren’t many dangerous chances though and it only seemed like a matter of time before either the Lightning would kick it in gear or the Canadiens would make a costly mistake.
It ended up being the costly mistake. The Lightning, despite being in their own zone for most of the first 10 minutes, took the lead on a turnover by Kal Clague (who was making his Montreal debut). Clague had the puck behind the Canadiens net and tried to fire it out of danger but whiffed. The puck trickled to Pat Maroon who spun and shot on net. It slid under Allen’s pads to give the Bolts the 1-0 lead.
The two teams traded power plays without any additional goals being produced. Much credit to both teams dedication to blocking shots while down a skater.
After One Period
Montreal held the edge in shot attempts (14-11) and scoring chances (8-5), but the Bolts had the better quality as they controlled the high-danger chances (4-2) and expected goals (62.07%). Neither team really produced a lot to be proud of, but the Lightning did pick up play as the period wore on.
Unfortunately, unlike the Flyers, the Canadiens didn’t pack up their tents and go home because they were trailing in the game. They kept coming at the Lightning with speed and it paid off after the Lightning turned it over in the Montreal zone.
A couple of old friends tied up the game. David Savard received a nice one-touch pass from old friend Jonathan Drouin as he zoomed into the Lightning zone. A quick move to his backhand put him and the puck to the middle of the ice. It skittered off his stick a bit, but right to Nick Suzuki who swatted it home.
The Canadiens didn’t let up after tying the game. They continued to have the better run of play and after Artturi Lehkonen just missed a golden opportunity on a nice passing play, Mike Hoffman gave the Habs the lead. Nothing fancy was required as he just wristed a shot home off of a clean face-off win.
That seemed to wake the Lightning up a little and they finally started to garner some zone time. Their puck retrieval was a little better and they finally strung multiple chances together on the same shift. Mathieu Joseph had back-to-back opportunities turned aside by Jake Allen.
The pressure did lead to a couple of penalties including one that led to a power play. A nice move by Anthony Cirelli led to a trip by Alexander Romanov. Unfortunately, Zach Bogosian didn’t care for the play and picked up an instigator penalty when he went after Romanov. Later in the period Corey Perry drew a penalty on Savard leading to the Bolt’s second power play of the game. The period ended without them converting.
After Two Periods
A late push helped them gain the lead in regards to shot attempts (23-13 in the period). Montreal was active in blocking shots though, knocking 7 of those attempts away. They also maintained their lead in quality with 5 more high-danger chances. Montreal were opportunistic with their two scores, but the Lightning played a little better for most of the middle frame.
There was a little more urgency to the Lightning’s play in the third period. Despite not converting on the remaining portion of the power play, they did give the Canadiens fits with an increased forecheck and a little better play along the boards. When Montreal did get the puck out of the zone, Tampa Bay countered. Alex Killorn and Gabriel Fortier worked a nice give-and-go, but Allen denied Killorn’s quick one-timer and the follow-up.
When they needed him Vasilevskiy was excellent. Lehkonen had a quick breakaway after Jan Rutta guessed wrong on a high, bouncing puck. Vasy stood tall and denied the chance, keeping the Montreal lead at one goal.
Victor Hedman had two glorious chances to tie the game. First, on the power play thanks to a Suzuki penalty, he rang one off the post. Allen never saw the shot coming. A few minutes later Allen saw plenty of Big Vic as the defender streaked in on a give-and-go. He cut in front of the net but was denied by the Montreal goaltender.
With 2:40 left in the match, Vasilevskiy headed to the bench for the extra skater. That extra skater was Corey Perry. The same guy who played for the Canadiens last season and was beloved by the fans. They probably don’t like him quite so much now. Hedman did a good job of keeping the puck in the zone and fed it over to Steven Stamkos. The Captain saucered a pass through the slot that hit a Canadiens’ stick and then Perry’s leg. That last bounce went the Lightning’s way as it deflected into the back of the net.
The Lightning then snatched their hearts away as Ondrej Palat beat two Montreal players to the center of the ice to redirect a pass from Killorn into the back of the net. Just like that the Bolts had the 3-2 lead.
Pat Maroon (unassisted) 1-0 Lightning
🚨GOAL: #GoBolts' Maroon nets his sixth goal of the season with 9:29 remaining in the opening period for the 1-0 lead over #GoHabsGo. What a look for the Big Rig. pic.twitter.com/0FRtLBgvk6— Mari (Christmas) Faiello 🎄 (@faiello_mari) December 8, 2021
Corey Perry (Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos) 2-2
WHAT A PASS BY STAMMER!— Kailey Mizelle (@KaileyMizelle) December 8, 2021
Corey Perry ties the game after Steven Stamkos threads the needle! #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/j94TcbJsnq
Ondrej Palat (Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli) 3-2 Lightning
🚨GOAL: #GoBolts' Palat makes it 3-2 with 37.1 seconds remaining in regulation. 1:36 seconds in-between goals. Wow. pic.twitter.com/1q6aNEXpz3— Mari (Christmas) Faiello 🎄 (@faiello_mari) December 8, 2021
Nick Suzuki (David Savard, Jonathan Drouin) 1-1
Contre-attaque parfaite. 👌— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) December 8, 2021
Perfect counter-attack. #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/RPDDvkqFSh
Mike Hoffman (Nick Suzuki) 2-1 Canadiens
"Shoot your shot." - Mike Hoffman, probably pic.twitter.com/nww0NGEm2e— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 8, 2021