Max Pacioretty scored his first ever playoff goal with 43 seconds left in the third period to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
The Canadiens swept the Lightning 4-0 at home as a result. The only thing I don’t like about this victory was that the game winner was scored on a powerplay that should not have been given, in my opinion.
Just seconds before the penalty was called, Montreal forward Michael Bournival got away with holding a player down on the ice in the corner. Therefore, I believe both players should’ve received penalties. Nevertheless, the Canadiens got away with it and were able end the playoff series early.
Daniel Brier, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher all scored goals for Montreal who had the lead throughout the game and looked to be cruising to victory. But Tampa Bay kept peppering Carey Price with shots in the third period. They were rewarded for their effort with goals from Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson, while Ondrej Palat also scored for the Lightning.
Those goals and some great saves from Kristers Gudlevskis almost gave Tampa Bay the comeback victory they needed. Lindback was pulled in favor of Gudlevskis after the latter conceded three goals on 20 shots.
Steven Stamkos was involved throughout the game but the Canadiens' defence did a great job shutting him down for the most part. Stamkos’ one glorious chance was taken away due to a broken stick.
So, Steve Yzerman’s Lightning have been eliminated in the first round. I don’t believe this is a surprising result, however I do believe that the series would’ve been different if Ben Bishop was in goal for the Lightning. I usually tend to think that pointing to injuries is just an excuse but in this case I’m making an exception.
For the Canadiens this is a wonderful victory. Every player on the roster has contributed to the team's success so far. PK Subban and Andrei Markov have been holding down the fort on the defensive end and Carey Price has shown great composure and skill to get the four-game sweep.
Trade deadline acquisition Gallagher and Brier have scored key goals in the series. Finally, the three goals from forward Rene Bourque were a nice surprise for Montreal fans as and the debate regarding whether getting some extra time off helps or hinders a team can now begin.
Montreal’s next opponent will not be so easily beaten. Both Boston and Detroit have far more depth and experience within their rosters. Either of these teams will present Montreal with quite a challenge in round two.
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