The Tampa Bay Lightning grabbed home-ice advantage over the Montreal Canadiens thanks to a shootout win (1-0 via “the skills competition”) against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
It seems like a fitting victory in a number of ways. For one thing, the gap between the Lightning and Canadiens has been razor-thin this season; the Lightning won three of the four meetings, but most came down to the wire. The Bolts won 2-1 (SO) in Montreal on Nov. 12, the Habs won 2-1 (SO) in Tampa Bay on Dec. 28, the Lightning won 2-1 (OT) on the road on Feb. 1 and Tampa Bay closed out the only regulation win between the two by a score of 3-1 at home on April 1.
The loss was also fitting for the Capitals. Washington participated in an NHL-record 21 shootouts in 2013-14, going 10-11 in that regard. (Place “What if the Caps mastered the shootout instead of being merely average in that regard?” on the team’s pile of “What if?” questions.)
Amid a week of turmoil for the Lightning with Ben Bishop’s injury and Ryan Malone’s arrest, the Bolts must feel heartened to see strong play from Anders Lindback. He’s now a three-game winning streak with two shutouts, only only two goals in that span (stopping 77 out of 79 shots).
The towering 25-year-old still sports an ugly 8-12-2 record and poor individual stats over the long haul of this season, but the Lightning need him to play at his highest level against a Montreal team that clearly seems capable of pushing them in this upcoming first-round series.