Lightning tastes Canadiens pain in Game 5


The Tampa Bay Lightning now know how the Montreal Canadiens felt in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

Montreal’s overtime win in Game 4 on Monday night gave the Lightning a bitter taste last week.

Much like Game 1, when Tampa Bay got traffic past Carey Price, Montreal did a better job putting the bodies ahead of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Much like Game 2, when the Lightning was on their heels yet scoring opportunistic goals, the Canadiens were outplayed 11-1 – and had none for the first eight minutes and more – before taking a lead. 1-0 to set the tone and take their first seed.

It all contributed to Josh Anderson’s shot in traffic in the first period, Alexander Romanov’s goal in the third period, and then Anderson’s goal in overtime to send the series back to Tampa for Game 5 on Wednesday night. Like the winner of Blake Coleman’s game for the Lightning in Game 2, Anderson was falling as he found the net in it.

It also didn’t help Tampa Bay that instead of withering, Price only picked up the pace when he was strewn with 12 shots in the first half and looked sharp throughout.

“I thought our guys were playing really well in front of me,” Price said. “We are doing our best to limit the chances and erase the rebounds.”

Despite all of this, Tampa Bay dominated Montreal 24-15 evenly and 34-21 overall. It was a familiar feeling for the Canadiens, who felt like they had dominated the Lightning in Game 2, but still suffered a loss.

“What could we have done differently? Probably not touched as many posts as we have touched, ”said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “The pucks did for us and tonight they didn’t. Do I think we have generated enough chances to score? I did, and they didn’t enter.

The next challenge for the Lightning is to find the right balance: stick to their plan that has worked so well to build themselves a 3-0 lead in the series or make a handful of adjustments to shut down the Habs and lift. the Cup for the second time in 10 months.

Based on what happened on Monday, it could be a mix of game planning, personnel and execution.

Copying some of the Canadians’ changes could be a good start. Aside from a shaky start – possibly due to a frontline shuffle – Montreal found its game and started hitting around the Lightning between and after the whistles.

The crushed Lightning might not want to get into a rushed game with the Habs at this point, although they may not have a choice and certainly have the big bodies to handle it. Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme looks brilliant for bringing new legs to the blue line with Romanov and Bret Kulak, and makes a replacement up front by knocking out Jesperi Kotkaniemi for Jake Evans, who prepared Romanov’s goal.

Cooper has an obvious option to get bigger, tougher, and more experienced, assuming Alex Killorn is ready to play after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury. Killorn skated in the warm-up before Game 3, but smaller forward Mathieu Joseph stayed on.

Killorn’s return could pay off big at 5v5 and on the power play, an area the Lightning struggled in in Game 4 because their skillful players were unable to retrieve the puck multiple times. He’s also been on several Cooper-coached title teams, dating the 2012 Calder Cup with American Hockey League Norfolk and bringing the sandpaper Tampa Bay badly needs.

And then there is the execution part. The Canadians scored first and took the lead for the first and second in any series, and it changes the way they play.

“The first goal of the hockey game is very important,” said Anderson. I think we did a good job.

It’s not as straightforward as the Lightning have to score first in Game 5, but it would certainly go a long way in putting a fourth straight overtime loss behind them.

“Their backs were against the wall and they gave a boost,” said forward Barclay Goodrow. “This game is over. We’re focused on Game 5, getting home, recharging the batteries and we’ll be good to go.


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