Montreal Canadiens

Quick strike: Lightning steal Game 3 from Habs with last-second goal

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The Montreal Canadiens carried much of the play in Game 3, but Ben Bishop kept the Tampa Bay Lightning alive long enough for the most dramatic finish of the second round … since the last really exciting finish.

Much like the Washington Capitals’ last-second win in Game 1, the Lightning barely avoided overtime to grab a 2-1 win tonight. With that, Tampa Bay holds a 3-0 series lead over Montreal, and they can end the series as early as Thursday in Game 4.

In tonight’s case, Ondrej Palat made an alert pass to Victor Hedman, who went in deep to send a great one-time pass to Tyler Johnson. The undrafted marvel scored with just about a second left, shocking Carey Price and the Canadiens in the process.

Here’s video of the winner:

… And this is probably how it felt for Price and the Canadiens:

Let’s not kid ourselves, though. Johnson’s goal and Steven Stamkos’ pass serve as beautiful buzzer-beaters, but the bottom line is that Ben Bishop stole this one for the Lightning.

The Canadiens’ 15 third-period shots nearly matched what Tampa Bay generated all game (19). Overall, it was a 31-19 shot differential for Montreal, but Johnson’s last attempt was the one that ultimately mattered.

source:

(Chart via Natural Stat Trick)

One year after Montreal swept the Bolts from the 2014 postseason, the Lightning are one win away from possibly returning the favor. The Canadiens don’t have much time to gather their thoughts, either, as Game 4 is tomorrow.

If Game 3 is any indication, there won’t be much room for error.

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

Video: Bishop holds off close calls from Canadiens

Heading into their second-round series, many thought that the difference between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning may come down to who’s in net. So far, it’s been Ben Bishop making the big saves instead of Carey Price.

The desperate Habs have been carrying the play for much of this game (as of this writing, Tampa Bay lacks a second-period shot), yet Bishop keeps turning Montreal aside. As you can see from this stop, sometimes he’s also getting a little luck:

Bishop also stopped Dale Weise by a narrow margin:

So far, the Lightning hold a 1-0 lead against the Canadiens, but you have to wonder how many times Bishop can save the day.

Video: Stamkos’ sweet pass sets up Killorn goal

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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:

Lightning, Habs will play first back-to-back of the playoffs

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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.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

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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.