It was a close call, but this Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled out a much-needed victory against the Montreal Canadiens. It looked like the Canadiens would pull out an easy victory after going up 3-1 with less than eight minutes to go in the second period, but the Lightning picked up the intensity and put some pressure on the net.
Before the end of the second period, J.T. Wyman snuck a goal through Carey Price’s legs to close the defecit to one; the referees had to review the play, as the puck trickled through Price’s legs and cleared the goal line just before the referee whistled the play “dead”. And then to complete the comeback, the Lightning scored two quick goals in the first ten minutes of the third period. Marc-Andre Bergeron nailed one of his Thor-hammer slapshots into the net to tie the score, and then Vinny Lecavalier grabbed a rebound off a shot from Wyman and slid the puck around Price and into an empty net. The Canadiens would put on the pressure late in the game, pouring the shots on Mathieu Garon, but Garon saved them all and the Bolts held on to win by one.
This is the second game in a row that the Lightning have despite getting out-shot by a wide margin. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1 after only getting off 16 shots (the Flyers had 32), and they were out-shot by the Canadiens tonight 34-22. That gives the Lightning 9 goals in their preview two games on only 38 shots; that’s a 23.7% shooting percentage, well above league average. The Bolts are a strong offensive club, but even they can’t keep up this sort of a pace. They’re going to cool down eventually, and when they do, we’re going to see some more depressing games.
But anyway, there will be time for that later — the Lightning won, so happy thoughts. Tonight’s win improves the Lightning to 16-17-3, giving them 35 points and jumping them over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference standings. They will need to stay hot if they want to save their season — this is only their second win in a row — although their next game is at home against the last place Hurricanes (32 points), which should help somewhat.
I hate to say “I told you so,” but well….Tampa Bay’s penalty kill struck again. It didn’t take them long either, as the Lightning committed their first penalty seven minutes into the game and Michael Cammalleri of the Canadiens scored shortly thereafter. I was hoping they’d prove me wrong, but apparently not:
The Bolts have the 12th worst penalty kill unit in the NHL (51 SA/60 minutes), and the Canadiens have one of the better power play units (52 SF/60 minutes). This combination promises to be dangerous enough for the Lightning, but they will also be without Victor Hedman, their top defensive player. The Lightning are a mess on special teams at the best of times, so I hope Boucher makes it clear that whoever commits the first penalty tonight will have a custom, solo practice after the game.
Brett Clark, come on down! You’re the not-so-lucky winner tonight.
Steven Stamkos scored a goal for the Bolts earlier in the period on a deflection from Pavel Kubina, so the Canadiens’ goal only tied the score up at one. Despite multiple chances on both sides of the ice, that’s how the first period finished: all tied up at one.
Overall, the Lightning are behind in shots 10-8 and trailing in hits 7-6, but they have won more faceoffs (11-7). Again, they really need to watch out for those penalties; those could kill them tonight against the Canadiens.