The Montreal Canadiens didn’t just avoid a sweep against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 last night; they crushed the Bolts.
Really, it’s kind of difficult to begrudge them their swagger on Friday morning, either.
Montreal has taken the shot advantage in three straight games, generating a whopping 100-67 edge over Tampa Bay in the past three contests. Bounces don’t always go your way, and until last night, Ben Bishop and a handful of Lightning forwards made the difference earlier in this series.
The Habs defiantly said “not yet” on Thursday, and it’s clear that they aren’t intimidated by this challenge. Either that, or they’re putting on a convincingly brave face.
Therrien noted that he believes the Canadiens are a tough team to play against, and that the Lightning should expect no less in Game 5 on Saturday. One wouldn’t put it past Montreal to make things a lot more interesting, especially if they aren’t too concerned about this current deficit.
"The difference last night was that we finally scored goals. It was nice to get the offense going." – T. Plekanec pic.twitter.com/hrkGnPzsOf
A quick look at which games will be on which channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …
Capitals at Rangers, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Could the 2015 Presidents’ Trophy winners end up seeing their season end tonight? The New York Rangers hope to ward off elimination against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Friday.
On the bright side for Rangers fans, they’ve fought back from a 3-1 series deficit with Alain Vigneault behind the bench before. The makeup of the team is already a bit different in this postseason, yet considering how close this series has been despite the 3-1 Caps’ advantage, the Rangers seem likely to put up a significant fight.
Ducks at Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The already fairly well-rested Ducks (they did sweep the Jets, after all) got an extra breather between Games 3 and tonight’s Game 4, which presented enough time to see the Blackhawks advance to the conference finals. It’s up to Anaheim to justify its West top seed status by trying to close out the Flames this weekend.
That may not be easy, as the spunky underdogs get another game in Calgary with a possible series tie dangling as a golden opportunity. While Anaheim should be pretty close to 100 percent, the Flames probably needed this gap between games quite a bit more. They have the opportunity to make a long series out of this one with a win tonight.
PHT Morning Skate: Jimmy Fallon tabs Alex Ovechkin as a Bond villain
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Jacob Markstrom was one of the most notable players involved in the sixth-longest game in AHL history. (Puck Daddy)
Ten amazing rookie playoff performances from the past 10 years, or “Cam Ward gets to be on a flattering list.” (The Hockey News)
Get to know high-end 2016 NHL Draft prospect Auston Matthews. (Sportsnet)
P.K. Subban isn’t ready to golf just yet.
“The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” took a lengthy look at the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs with a superlatives segment, which amounts to a lot of NHL player mugshot jokes. We shall now refer to Brian Boyle as “The Disney Prince.”
The Alex Ovechkin – Bond villain comparison seems oddly familiar, though, doesn’t it?
Burakovsky scored his first two playoff goals in this game … and each one was artful.
Holtby’s highlight-reel moment won’t get buried too much, however, as his penalty-shot save on Carl Hagelin ranks as another masterpiece:
The Rangers and Capitals played another tight, close game, with New York carrying the first period, Washington turning it up a notch in the second and the third being pretty even.
Ultimately, the difference in this series has been a handful of Capitals forwards making huge plays (Alex Ovechkin’s beautiful goals, Burakovsky’s big night) and Holtby pulling off the rare feat of upstaging goaltending superstar Henrik Lundqvist.
To some, it might not seem fair that this series is 3-1, but the bottom line is that Washington managed that lead. The Rangers are just one loss from seeing their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season go down in flames against an all-too-familiar foe by an agonizingly small difference in bounces, breaks and big plays.
For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.
Stamkos on Johnson’s winner: ‘Like pulling a rabbit out of your hat’