Much has been made of Steven Stamkos’ recently shaken struggles with scoring goals, but it’s easy to forget that the Tampa Bay Lightning star is a pretty talented passer, too.
Stamkos provided a sweet reminder of his playmaking skills early on in Game 3, as he set up this Alex Killorn goal to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead against the Montreal Canadiens:
That goal somewhat tarnished early strong work by Carey Price, including this set of saves:
For the first time in these NHL playoffs, teams will play on back-to-back nights when the Lightning and Canadiens meet tonight, then again tomorrow, in Tampa Bay.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who didn’t play full games on consecutive days once during the regular season, is trying to keep his focus on tonight’s game only.
“I’m not really worried about tomorrow,” Bishop said today, per ESPN.com. “Tonight’s kind of the main thing. We’ve played (three games in three days) in the minors and everything. I’m not too worried about it. Right now I’m just focused on tonight.”
The Lightning and Canadiens last met Sunday in Montreal. They were forced to play a back-to-back due to Amalie Arena being booked last night for a Nitro Circus event (which actually ended up being canceled).
Bishop saw action three times with zero days rest during the regular season (.868 save percentage). Twice he started games after appearing in a relief effort the day before; once he started on consecutive days, but was pulled early in the first game.
Montreal’s Carey Price started three back-to-backs during the regular season. He was not pulled in any of the six combined games, and his save percentage with zero days rest was an impressive .947.
Tampa Bay leads the series, 2-0.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action …
Canadiens at Lightning, 7:00 p.m. ET on USA
Montreal is down 2-0 in its second round series after also losing all five of its regular season games against Tampa Bay. The Canadiens just can’t seem to figure the Lightning out and time isn’t on their side. It certainly doesn’t help Montreal that Steven Stamkos ended his postseason goal scoring drought in Game 2. Given what Tampa Bay accomplished while he was struggling, the squad should be very dangerous if he gets hot.
The silver lining for the Canadiens is that they will likely get David Desharnais back tonight. The 28-year-old forward had the flu and was hospitalized at one point to get re-hydrated. However, after initially staying behind when his teammates traveled to Tampa Bay, he was able to rejoin them on Tuesday. He’s been averaging 16:40 minutes per game in the playoffs, so Montreal had a significant hole to fill when he was absent for Game 2.
Rangers at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The first three games of this second round series have been decided by just one goal, so it’s fair to say that these squads have been evenly matched. In Game 3, the difference was a somewhat fluky marker by Washington’s Jay Beagle. That being said, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had the best game out of anyone with 30 saves to post the shutout. He now has a 1.54 GAA and .949 save percentage in the playoffs and is one of the main reasons Washington has its 2-1 series edge over the Rangers.
Netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been great too, but he hasn’t gotten much help from the Rangers’ top forwards. Rick Nash has just one goal in eight playoff contests while Martin St. Louis hasn’t found the back of the net in the 2015 postseason. If Nash and St. Louis don’t bounce back then the Rangers will have a lot of difficulty getting past Washington.
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.
Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards, promised that if both of his teams make it to finals, then he’ll shave his head. “That would be the least that I could do,” he said. (Washington Post)
New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero isn’t ruling out the possibility of hiring his former bench boss in Pittsburgh, Dan Bylsma, but he emphasized that it’s not a lock either. (NHL.com)
Mario Lemieux’s son, Austin, has been selected by the Omaha Lancers Tuesday in the ninth round of the United States Hockey League’s draft. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Bob Hartley has done a terrific job leading the young Calgary Flames into the playoffs, but that wasn’t the gameplan when former Flames GM Jay Feaster originally sought him out. At the time the Flames were more of a veteran team and Feaster felt Hartley would get the most out of the squad’s older players. In particular, Feaster was interested in getting a coach that would work well with Jarome Iginla. As it happened, Hartley and Iginla didn’t even spend a full season together in Calgary. (Calgary Sun)
On that note, here are the highlights from Calgary’s 4-3 overtime win against Anaheim:
Ilya Kovalchuk might return to the NHL someday, but it doesn’t sound like it will happen any time soon. (Slava Malamud)
The Montreal Canadiens might be down 2-0 in their second round series, but as long as they have goaltender Carey Price, they have a shot. (Canadian Press)
Dallas captain Jamie Benn, Washington captain Alex Ovechkin and Montreal goalie Carey Price have been named the nominees for this year’s Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the league’s Most Outstanding Player as voted by the players.
Benn played in all 82 regular season games for the Dallas Stars in 2014-15. Benn captured the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points (87), which he won with a four-point game – including his second hat-trick of the season – on the final night of the regular season.
Ovechkin played 81 games for the Washington Capitals during the 2014-15 regular season, and helped lead the Capitals back into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Ovechkin scored 53 goals to capture his fifth Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, and he became the sixth NHL player to record six career 50-goal seasons.
Price layed 66 games for the Montreal Canadiens during the 2014-15 regular season, and helped lead the Canadiens to the second best record in the NHL. Price led the league in wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933), which earned him finalist nominations for the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Vezina Trophy.
This is the first Lindsay nomination for both Benn and Price, while Ovechkin is looking to capture the award for the fourth time in his career. The Russian sniper last won it in 2010; he also took home the trophy in ’09 and ’08, when it was known as the Lester B. Pearson.
Interesting to note that while both Ovechkin and Price were nominated for this year’s Hart Trophy as league MVP, the third finalist — John Tavares — failed to make the cut for the Lindsay.