Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three

Canadiens push Lightning to brink of elimination with 3-2 win

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One can debate whether the Tampa Bay Lightning are victims of bad luck, but there’s no denying that their season is now on the line. The Montreal Canadiens won Game 3 by a score of 3-2 on Sunday, giving themselves a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

It looked like Anders Lindback would be an albatross in this one, as Rene Bourque (who had an excellent game overall) scored 11 seconds in:

As it turns out, Lindback was often excellent on Sunday, but his adamant effort wasn’t enough tonight.

Speaking of admirable hard work still falling short, Steven Stamkos shook off a scary spill in the second period to play – and even generate an assist – in the final frame. He finished the night with helpers on both Lightning goals. Here’s one more look at that scary fall:

It’s easy to gravitate toward the Lightning’s lousy luck, especially considering this disallowed goal:

Still, that takes a lot of the deserved credit from the Habs, who are one win away from some rest and a sweep. P.K. Subban stood out along with Bourque, dazzling with this assist on Brendan Gallagher’s goal:

Tomas Plekanec ended up notching the game-winner with an assist from Gallagher.

For all the adversity the Lightning have fought off in the regular season, they now need to win four games in a row to avoid a first-round exit. The odds certainly look long right now – especially if Stamkos can’t play once the adrenaline wears off – as they’ll attempt to salvage their season beginning with Game 4 on Tuesday.

Crashing Lightning: Montreal crushes Tampa Bay, takes 2-0 series lead

David Desharnais, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty
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Losing in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 was a setback for the Lightning, but Tampa Bay’s 4-1 loss tonight before the series heads to Montreal for Game 3 is cause for alarm.

Tampa Bay was missing some key players, including rookie forward Ondrej Palat and starting goaltender Ben Bishop, but the Canadiens and in particular goaltender Carey Price deserve a lot of credit for Friday’s result.

After allowing four goals on 23 shots in Game 1, Price turned aside 26 of 27 shots and came within 1:59 minutes of his fourth career playoff shutout.

Not that he necessarily had to be anywhere near perfect in this one as his teammates were able to provide him with a lot of support.

After failing to find the back of the net with the man advantage for nearly a month, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban ended the drought with a hard shot that was then tipped in by David Desharnais to give Montreal a 1-0 lead.

Rene Bourque powered his way through the Lightning defenders to provide Montreal with an insurance goal midway through the second period.

Tampa Bay goaltender Anders Lindback’s night only got worse from there until he was pulled in favor of netminder Kristers Gudlevskis midway through the third period. Gudlevskis made a name for himself with Team Latvia in the Olympics but has just one game worth of NHL experience.

With Bishop not expected to return soon, the Lightning might end up starting Gudlevskis on Sunday. Not that the Lightning’s problems can be solved simply by swapping goalies.

Video: Canadiens end long power-play drought

Montreal goal

The Montreal Canadiens have been struggling with the man advantage for a while now and early in Game 2 of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it didn’t look that slump was on the verge of ending.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was charged with a double-minor for high sticking, but Montreal couldn’t get anything going and squandered half of their power-play time by having too many men on the ice.

That extended their power-play drought to 27 failed attempts, dating back to their last goal with the man advantage on March 25, per the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno.

Montreal got another chance early in the second period though and this time P.K. Subban and David Desharnais were able to take advantage of it:

Montreal has a 2-0 lead in the second period as they look to sweep the first two games in Tampa Bay.

‘Rejuvenated’ Weise enjoying the belief of his coach in Montreal

Dale Weise, P.K. Subban
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Apparently, a fresh start in Montreal is just what Dale Weise needed.

Traded to the Canadiens by Vancouver in February, the 25-year-old forward was the overtime hero Wednesday in Tampa Bay. Not surprisingly, he’s feeling pretty good about life in the NHL these days.

“I just feel like my career got rejuvenated,” he said, per the Canadian Press. “The coaches here believe in me, they’ve had nothing but good things to say about me and look at the amount we were playing in overtime.

“It’s a coach (Michel Therrien) that has some trust in me and that just instills confidence in me. I just feel like every game I play with this team I continue to build confidence and get better.”

Weise’s coach with the Canucks was John Tortorella. The two were also together for a time in New York with the Rangers.

From the Vancouver Sun:

Weise and Tortorella had their problems when both were with the New York Rangers and there had been signs player and coach weren’t always seeing eye to eye in Vancouver.

“I thought I had some good stretches where I played real well,” Weise told Team 1040 radio on Monday. “I think I had my most success when I had the seven games there on the third line. It was easier for me to get in the action and contribute a little more. I was happy with my role in Vancouver and I thought I did it to the best of my ability.”

A good skater, Weise showed signs he could produce offensively while in the AHL, where he scored 57 times in 194 games for Hartford from 2008-11. He also had a rather prolific run — 22 goals and 26 assists in 19 games — while playing in the Netherlands during the lockout.

He looked pretty good scoring Wednesday’s winner, too.

“I got down on one leg, the old Brett Hull, and I just ripped it,” he said.

Weise gives Canadiens 1-0 series lead with overtime win

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning gave hockey fans plenty of what was expected (great work from Thomas Vanek and Steven Stamkos), yet the game was just as much about the unexpected. If the frequently wide-open pace wasn’t surprising enough, Dale Weise broke the star-scoring narrative by notching the 5-4 overtime game-winner to give Montreal a 1-0 series lead.

Let’s take a look back at how the contest came down to Weise’s surprising game-winner.

Score-wise, the game was a seesaw affair as the two teams traded leads throughout. Tampa Bay opened the scoring midway through the opening frame on a Nikita Kucherov marker, but Montreal replied just 19 seconds later when Tomas Plekanec walked Radko Gudas and snapped the puck past Anders Lindback.

In the second period, a similar narrative unfolded — Steve Stamkos gave the Bolts a 2-1 lead at the 13:24 mark, only for Montreal to respond with the equalizer minutes later on Brian Gionta’s shorthanded tally.

In the third, guess what? More lead changes. This time it was Montreal blowing a pair of one-goal advantages, though, as Lars Eller’s early marker was canceled out by Alex Killorn’s first-ever playoff goal; minutes later, Thomas Vanek’s go-ahead 4-3 goal was equaled when Stamkos scored his second of the game with six and a half minutes remaining.

The Bolts hung with the Habs despite being largely outplayed and badly outshot (35-16) during regulation. Lindback, forced into the starter’s role late in the regular season after Ben Bishop went down to an upper-body injury, was solid in the face of heavy action, finishing with 39 saves on 44 shots.

Carey Price was billed as the sure thing in this goalie matchup, yet he had the rougher night in regulation, at least statistically speaking. Chances are, he’ll gladly take a weak outing on paper (he made 21 out of 25 saves) if it means getting a key win.

The two teams get back at it on Friday with the Lightning facing the prospect of heading to Montreal down 0-2. This team has shown remarkable resiliency this season, but Tampa Bay might dig too deep a hole if they can’t bounce back in Game 2.

One bonus note: after all this time, Daniel Briere still seems to have a knack for scoring in the playoffs: