BY: John Mamola
The Tampa Bay Lightning now find themselves in a ‘win or go home’ situation as the Montreal Canadiens take a commanding three games to none lead in the best of seven series with a 3-2 win at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The Bolts who entered this series 3-0-1 against Montreal have lost three straight by a combined score of 12-7.
Montreal did not waste any time giving the sold out Bell Centre exactly what the home crowd wanted as Rene Bourque put the first shot on goal in the game past Lightning goal tender Anders Lindback. Bourque’s third goal of the series made it 1-0 just eleven seconds into the game.
The Bolts held Montreal scoreless for the remainder of the period although the bolts were outshot 13-8. Tampa Bay played a much more physical game in the first period notching 21 hits in just the first frame.
The physical play would continue in the second period as the penalties began to mount for both teams with the man advantage to follow. The Bolts struck first on the advantage as Ondrej Palat netted his first career playoff goal on the power play tying the game at one.
Following a controversial goaltender interference call on Alex Killorn which would have led to the second Lightning goal of the game, the Canadiens took advantage of an irate and despondent Tampa squad to take the lead late in the period. Brendan Gallagher put Montreal in front on a wrist shot which came about on a great spin move deke by Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban.
The Canadiens led the Bolts 2-1 heading to the third but Thomas Plekanec scored the difference maker putting Montreal up 3-1. Matt Carle scored his first goal of the series to make it 3-2, but Montreal was simply too much for Tampa Bay as they take the commanding 3-0 series lead.
Radko Gudas and Victor Hedman had the assists for Tampa Bay. Anders Lindback had 28 saves while Carey Price had 27 saves for Montreal. The Habs outshot the Bolts 31-29, but Tampa Bay finished the game with 40 hits, and were brilliant on the penalty kill shutting down Montreal 0-5.
The Lightning will look to stave off elimination on Tuesday night in Montreal, with a 7:00pm faceoff. You can hear all the action on 970AM WFLA beginning at 6:30pm.