Montreal Canadiens

Bolts are ‘angry’ heading into Game 6, says Cooper


Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said his team was an angry lot following a second straight loss to Montreal in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series.

And you know what? He liked it.

“There was a difference in the room after we lost Game 4 (compared to) Game 5. It was a genuine pissed-off attitude when we lost Game 5,” Cooper said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I could just tell, there was nothing that really needed to be said. Guys were angry, it’s carried over.

“I like our mojo right now. I want to be an angry team.”

There were signs of Tampa Bay’s frustration immediately following Game 5. Goalie Ben Bishop called out his mates, saying “it’s tough when you only show up for half the game” while captain Steve Stamkos added “this one (stinks).”

And it’s easy to see why the Bolts are getting irate.

Carey Price has been tremendous over the last two games, stopping 46 of 49 shots (a .939 save percentage). But within those numbers lies a problem for Tampa Bay — its shot totals have been woefully low this series. After putting 35 on Price in the opener (which happened in double OT), they’ve since registered 24, 19, 24 and 25 shots in goal in the four subsequent games. For a team that led the NHL in goals per game during the regular season and averaged 29.6 shots per contest, it’s a pretty noticeable decline.

“We haven’t had our best stuff yet,” veteran forward Brenden Morrow told the Tampa Bay Times. “We still believe our best hockey matches up pretty good against other teams’ best hockey. We just have to find a way to muster it up.”

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they’ve got an opportunity to “muster it up” at the friendly confines of Amalie Arena. The Bolts were an NHL-best 32-8-1 at home this year.

Morrow believes Bolts’ ‘A-game has to come out here pretty soon’


The Tampa Bay Lightning owned the NHL’s best home record during the regular season, but have struggled on home ice in the playoffs.

The Bolts went at 32-8-1 at Amalie Arena, but are 3-5 in the in the postseason.

According to veteran Brenden Morrow, the Lightning have not played their best hockey through five games of their series with the Habs.

“Law of averages, our A-game has to come out here pretty soon,” Morrow said on Sunday. “We haven’t had our best stuff yet, but I think we still believe our team’s best hockey matches up pretty good against any team’s best hockey. We have to find a way to muster it up.”

After taking a commanding 3-0 series lead, the league’s top offensive team during the regular season has struggled to beat Carey Price scoring just three times in back-to-back losses.

“We had a real tough emotional series against Detroit and there may be a bit of a hangover from that ‘cause we haven’t played our best hockey,” said Morrow, who has played four of the five games in the series. “Hopefully we come out with our best effort in Game 6.”

Defenseman Victor Hedman believes Bolts’ third period on Saturday night gives the team something to build on heading into Tuesday’s Game 6.

“Just for us to calm down a little bit with the puck,” said Hedman of what needs to change. “Trying to force plays, use our strengths, play to our strengths, use our speed and get pucks deep.

“If we turn pucks over, that plays right into their system and they’re a great defensive team. Turnovers (are) going to cost you. I think last game was a step in the right direction, especially in the third period with the way we played. We created a lot of chances and got the tying goal by Stammer.”

Puck drop on Tuesday is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. You can catch the game on NBCSN.

(Related) Cooper on Price: ‘His numbers against the Tampa Bay Lightning are very pedestrian’

Cooper on Price: ‘His numbers against the Tampa Bay Lightning are very pedestrian’


After scoring just three goals in two losses to the Montreal Canadiens, the Tampa Bay Lightning are “hanging their hat” on the fact they’ve had success against the Habs and Carey Price all season.

Tampa had won eight straight against Montreal prior to Game 4 including five straight regular season wins.

During the regular season Price, who is a finalist for the Vezina, Hart and Ted Lindsay trophies, had a 0-4-1 with 3.47 GAA and .906 save percentage against the Bolts.

“His numbers against the Tampa Bay Lightning are very pedestrian than they are compared to the rest of the teams,” said Jon Cooper on Sunday. “That doesn’t make him any less a goaltender. We’ve just found a way to have some success. In our guys’ mind… are we facing an all-world talent? We are. But we’ve had success in the past, and I think that’s something we’ve been hanging our hat on is we’ve done it in the past and we can do it again.

“That’s kind of been our mindset.”

So what needs to change for the Bolts heading into Game 6 on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena?

“Our Achilles heel the last couple games has been our turnovers, our puck management hasn’t been what we needed it to be, hence we haven’t had the puck as much,” said Cooper. “When you don’t have it as much, you just open you self up for chances to be scored on.”

Cooper also addressed the drop in goal scoring in the postseason.

The Lightning led the league with 3.16 goals per game in the regular season, but have seen that number drop to 2.50 through the first 12 games of the playoffs.

“For 82 games in the regular season, everybody is trying to score, and as soon as the playoffs start, everyone is trying to prevent goals. There’s a huge difference in mentality,” said Cooper. “All of a sudden guys that were probably trying to make that extra little move at the blue line because they’re trying to do something special are now chipping it in. Players adjust their games differently.

“I see guys that are top offensive players that are really paying attention to detail and defense. I think that’s what’s kind of smothered the offensive stats. There’s such a commitment to playing defense now and not as much a commitment to score. Teams know you just need to get one, maybe even two and there’s a really good possibility you’re going to win the game.”

Subban expects Bishop ‘to be a lot better’ in Game 6


Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban got some attention when he said after Game 4 that he felt Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop had been “sitting on a horseshoe.” He explained that while he felt Bishop had been playing well in the series, he also believed that the goalie was getting lucky.

That was until Game 4 at least when Bishop was yanked after allowing three goals on 14 shots. The Canadiens went on to earn a 6-2 victory to avoid the sweep. They followed that up with a 2-1 win tonight and once again Subban had something to say about Bishop.

“I expect Bishop to be a lot better (in Game 6),” Subban said. Perhaps, but he wasn’t bad in tonight’s contest.

The Lightning netminder stopped 27 of 29 shots in the losing effort. It’s hard to fault him for Devante Smith-Pelly’s goal, which was a great shot that hit the post before going in. There was also a fair amount of traffic around him for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau’s game-winning goal:

Either way, it’s certainly reasonable to believe that the Lightning need a great game out of Bishop on Tuesday as his counterpart in Montreal, Carey Price, doesn’t have many bad nights.

Could it happen? Habs edge closer to reverse sweep by forcing Game 6


After taking a 3-0 series lead, Tampa Bay was crushed by Montreal in Game 4 on Thursday. The Lightning regrouped for Game 5 and held their own, but they still suffered a 2-1 loss to the Canadiens Saturday night.

Montreal held a 1-0 lead for most of the game after Devante Smith-Pelly got the better of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop at 9:01 of the first period. It certainly helped that Canadiens netminder Carey Price was as dominant as usual, but with a ton of traffic around the goalie, Steven Stamkos was able to capitalize on a juicy rebound to tie the contest.

That had the potential to be the start of a storybook ending for Tampa Bay as Stamkos has struggled to find the back of the net in the 2015 playoffs and didn’t even record a shot in the Lightning’s previous two contests. However, Montreal forward PA Parenteau provided an alternative conclusion:

The Lightning were unable to close the gap the second time around. In a sign of how heated this series has gotten, there was a skirmish after the contest. These squads have now played 10 times since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, so they’re very familiar with each other at this point.

Montreal has to be feeling confident after these two wins against Tampa Bay. The odds are still stacked against the Canadiens, but with Price leading the way, a reverse sweep can’t be ruled out. The key for Tampa Bay now is to avoid getting frustrated. The Lightning have two more chances to eliminate Montreal left and the next one will be in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.