Down 1-0 in their second round series, the Montreal Canadiens got off to a strong start in tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Acquired from the Edmonton Oilers, defenseman Jeff Petry fired a shot through traffic that beat goaltender Ben Bishop just 7:20 minutes into the contest.
It was his first career playoff goal and also marked just the second time that Montreal has scored first in a 2015 playoff game. However, the Canadiens could not hold the lead.
While Montreal was fine defensively in the first period and Carey Price has been playing like Carey Price, Montreal accumulated six penalty minutes in the final 7:15 minutes of play in the opening frame. The Canadiens were still able to hold Tampa Bay back for the most part, but eventually Valtteri Filppula was able to sneak one by Price.
Tampa Bay is now 3-for-37 with the man advantage.
At one point in February there were reportedly 14 NHL teams that had interest in Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor. It sounds like he’s significantly narrowed down his options since then.
O’Connor is in talks with the Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and New York Rangers, according to TVA Sports’ Louis Jean. Among the things he’s looking for is a goaltending coach he believes can elevate his game.
He posted a 2.18 GAA and .927 save percentage in 35 NCAA games in 2014-15. Along with highly regarded 2015 draft prospect Jack Eichel, O’Connor led Boston to the Frozen Four final before losing to Providence.
The one thing Ottawa, Vancouver, and the Rangers have in common is that they all have established goaltending tandems lined up for the 2015-16 campaign. That should allow O’Connor to hone his game in the minors before attempting to play at the NHL level.
The Montreal Canadiens are hoping to even their series with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 tonight, but they will have to do so without the services of David Desharnais. The 28-year-old forward is battling the flu and is consequently not playing.
Desharnais had 14 goals and 48 points in 82 games in the regular season. He’s recorded two assists in seven playoff contests. This is the first time he’s missed a Canadiens game since the start of the campaign.
Brian Flynn has drawn into the lineup as a result and is centering a line that includes Alex Galchenyuk and Dale Weise.
Montreal surrendered a sixth round pick to acquire Flynn from the Buffalo Sabres on March 2. The 26-year-old had five goals and 17 points in 63 contests in the regular season. He has another goal and three points in five postseason games.
Jonathan Drouin has plenty of offensive upside and is coming off of a respectable regular season rookie campaign. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning have only used him once in the playoffs and are projected to list him as a healthy scratch again on Sunday.
The Lightning have plenty of offensive weapons without Drouin and that’s likely a big part of the reason why Lightning coach Jon Cooper has decided to keep the still comparatively inexperienced forward in the press box. In the one postseason contest that Cooper decided to use Drouin, the 20-year-old served on the fourth line and was consequently limited to 8:42 minutes. Even still, there have been times when Cooper’s decision to pass on Drouin has raised eyebrows.
If one of the Lightning’s skilled forwards suffers an injury, then Drouin might be asked to fill the void. Until then, it seems that he will continue to be used sparingly, although Cooper is at least suggesting that he’ll eventually get another chance regardless.
“He’s an extreme talent and he’s getting better and better,” Cooper told the Canadian Press. “This is a learning experience just as it was last year for Kuch or Palat or Johnson.
“But you put in your twenty (players) you feel, on this day, is going to give us the best chance to win. Probably, moving forward, he’s going to be in that 20 all the time. Just right now, he’s on the sidelines. Whether he has to wait his turn or we feel a matchup is best for him, but I can tell you, he’s going to play in this series at some point. We just have to see when.”
The Washington Capitals took Game 1 of their series against the New York Rangers thanks to a clutch goal by Joel Ward with less than two seconds left on the clock. However, just before that goal Nicklas Backstrom delivered a questionable hit to Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle.
Backstrom wasn’t penalized for his actions and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist thinks there was a direct correlation between Backstrom’s actions and the way the contest ended.
“Obviously the last few seconds there, I feel like we all just kind of stopped when Boyle went down,” Lundqvist told the Bergen Record. “We lost our focus a little bit and gave up the last chance.”
Marc Staal, who qualified his comments by saying that he was going off of what was described to him as he didn’t see the incident in question, thought what Backstrom did “seems cheap.” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who seemed angry after the hit and subsequent goal, refused to comment on the referees after the game. For his part though, Backstrom defended his actions.
“I didn’t see the puck but I knew there was five seconds left and everything can happen,” Backstrom told CSN Washington. “I mean, it’s something we’ve been taught from when we were kids, to play until the whistle and that’s what we did.
“To be honest with you, I haven’t seen [the hit], so I can’t really say anything about it. But it looked like he was standing by the wall there. Hits like that happen every game, so …”
You can see what happened for yourself below (the hit occurs with about 5.5 seconds left on the clock):