Despite rallying back from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 6, Montreal didn’t fare well against Tampa Bay tonight. With his team eliminated, Canadiens bench boss Michel Therrien offered a harsh assessment of what happened.
“I felt that physically and mentally we were drained. It’s disappointing but I guess those things happen,” Therrien said, per the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban partially echoed that sentiment by stating, “We knew they were going to come out with their best effort tonight and we didn’t match it.”
They seem to differ regarding where Montreal’s stands overall though. The Canadiens have won their division in two of the last three years and have advanced to at least the second round in back-to-back campaigns, but Therrien still sees them as a transitional team.
“I can’t focus on saying we need to wait a couple of years before we can contend,” Subban countered, according to NHL.com’s Аrpon Basu. “We need to contend now.”
Carey Price will turn 28 in August, Subban celebrates his 26th birthday on Wednesday, and Max Pacioretty will be 27 in November. That’s the core of the team and with that in mind, the Canadiens should be in win now mode. At the same time, forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are just starting to come into their own and perhaps they’ll be the difference in a couple years.
Montreal could certainly use the offensive help as it averaged a pedestrian 2.61 goals per game in the regular season and that went down to 2.08 in the playoffs.
While Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop had a generally strong series, he didn’t even last to the halfway point of Game 4 before being pulled. After that contest, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban remarked
, “I think Bishop sort of was sitting on a horseshoe for a little bit there. He’s played well, but he’s been lucky, as well.”
Subban thought Bishop’s Game 4 struggles would provide Montreal with confidence going forward, but the goalie responded by turning aside 45 of 48 shots over the final two contests of the second round. Tampa Bay still narrowly lost Game 5, but was able to eliminate the Canadiens tonight.
“Thank Goodness for my lucky horseshoe,” Bishop said after Tuesday’s game, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.
Bishop has let in some shaky goals over the course of the playoffs, but he also has a 1.81 GAA and .931 save percentage in 13 contests. With that in mind, it seems fair to say that he’s been a big part of Tampa Bay’s success thus far. His work is far from over though as Tampa Bay now sets its sights on reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2004.
When a team establishes a 3-0 series lead as Tampa Bay did against Montreal, it gains breathing room as the onus is on the other squad to stage a historic comeback. Even still, the Lightning deserve credit for stepping up in Game 6 against the Canadiens after what was likely two frustrating losses.
In fact, Tampa Bay not only responded, but dominated in tonight’s 4-1 victory.
“That was probably the best game we played all playoffs,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said in his postgame interview.
Tampa Bay had a clear edge in shots (28-19), faceoff wins (36-25), and hits (33-22) tonight. This game also saw Stamkos score his third goal in five games. After a rough first round, he couldn’t be much hotter going into the Eastern Conference Final.
You can see his full interview below:
The Montreal Canadiens made the Tampa Bay Lightning work for their fourth win, but at the end of the day they couldn’t overcome the 3-0 series deficit. After two failed attempts, the Lightning outplayed Montreal in Game 6 en route to a 4-1 victory.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop had a strong showing and came within 4:57 minutes of earning his second shutout of the 2015 playoffs. He had plenty of help in this one though as Montreal was held to just 19 shots on goal. Bishop never had to face more than seven shots in a single frame.
That’s in stark contrast to the rest of the second round series where Montreal was able to pepper Bishop with shots. The Canadiens struggles weren’t restricted to the Lightning’s end of the ice though.
A bad turnover by Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec led to Nikita Kucherov scoring the opening goal 15:35 minutes into the game. Steven Stamkos then netted a great marker in the second to provide Tampa Bay with some insurance so that by the time Lightning forward Ondrej Palat found the back of the net, Montreal’s situation was dire:
After two lengthy series, Tampa Bay won’t have too much time to recharge before the start of the Eastern Conference Final. The only silver lining is that its adversary will be just as worn down as Washington and the New York Rangers are set to play in Game 7 tomorrow to determine who will challenge the Lightning.
As for Montreal, this is a disappointing end to what had been a strong campaign. The Canadiens won the Atlantic Division with 110 points and beat Ottawa in six games in the first round. Montreal entered the season looking like Canada’s best chance at representation in the Stanley Cup Final, but that won’t happen. This will mark the 21st straight campaign that an American team has won the Cup.
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Although the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to squeak past the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, Steven Stamkos didn’t score a single goal in that seven-game series. Stamkos continued to have difficulty finding the back of the net — or even taking a shot — early in the second round, but that goal scoring slump is behind him.
Stamkos beat Canadiens netminder Carey Price for the second straight game to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead over Montreal:
The Lightning captain is on a five-game point streak and has three goals and seven points over that span. With Tampa Bay up 3-2 in its second round series, Stamkos’ latest marker has put the pressure on the Canadiens.
Montreal has done a fantastic job making this a series after falling behind 3-0, but unless the Canadiens step up soon their comeback attempt will fall short.