This could be the last night of Minnesota and Montreal’s playoff runs as the Blackhawks and Lightning have a 3-0 series lead in their respective series. The Wild went into the second round hoping that this would finally be the year they got past Chicago after failed attempts in 2013 and 2014. Montreal meanwhile had high aspirations thanks in large part to goaltender Carey Price’s efforts.
Both squads still have a chance to reverse their fortunes, but the odds are now stacked heavily against them.
Montreal will be the first to fight for its survival as Game 4 vs. Tampa Bay is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can also stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra and tune in as early as 6:00 for pregame coverage:
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Chicago’s Game 4 contest against Minnesota will start at 9:30 p.m. ET. It will also air on NBCSN, but the Wild-Hawks contest still has its own livestream URL:
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Including the regular season, Montreal went into Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay without a single win in eight meetings. Another loss tonight would have ended the Canadiens’ playoff run, but instead they scored early and often in a 6-2 victory.
Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov set the tone of the game just 2:44 minutes in when he beat Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. That put the game on a path that led to Bishop being pulled early in the second frame after allowing a soft goal from David Desharnais.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made his first career playoff appearance as a result, but it didn’t work out for him as Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher found the back of the net just 15 seconds apart to turn this contest into a blowout.
Tampa Bay was able to capitalize on a couple power-play opportunities after that, but Montreal didn’t let up in the third period so it’s hard for the Lightning to take many positives out of this one. Although they won Game 3, the Lightning were looking for a better performance tonight and didn’t get it.
Really the only silver lining for the Lightning is that they’re in a position to shake off this loss. They had a 3-0 series lead and thus still have three more chances to eliminate Montreal. Even still, it would be very dangerous to let the Canadiens get back into this series. With stars like goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban on their side, the Canadiens have the talent to make some history.
For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.
Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop turned aside 30 of 31 shots to lead the Lightning to a 2-1 victory on Wednesday, but tonight’s game has been a very different story.
Montreal was able to take a 2-0 lead in the first period and it gained even more breathing room in the second courtesy of a shot by David Desharnais that Bishop should have stopped:
With that, Bishop was yanked just 25:08 minutes into the game after stopping 11 of 14 shots. Andrei Vasilevskiy, 20, made his playoff debut as a result. He hasn’t fared any better as he allowed two quick goals against Montreal.
Going into this game, Bishop had a commanding 1.65 GAA and .937 save percentage in 10 playoff contests, but fatigue might have been a factor as he was being asked to start in his second contest in as many nights.
Down 3-0 in its series to Tampa Bay, Montreal needs a win tonight just to keep going. The Canadiens couldn’t have asked for a much better start.
Max Pacioretty did a great job of feeding the puck to defenseman P.K. Subban in the Lightning zone just a couple minutes into the game. However, with the Tampa Bay players flooding the center of the ice in anticipation of a shot from Subban, he instead moved the puck to Andrei Markov, who had a clean shot at goaltender Ben Bishop:
Pacioretty made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal just 8:43 minutes into the game after picking up teammate Torrey Mitchell’s successful clear:
That was Montreal’s second shorthanded marker of the 2015 playoffs. The Canadiens have scored once with the man advantage.
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 NBCSN
Following a last-second victory in Game 3 on Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to complete the series sweep tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs have scored just seven goals while losing five of six after starting the playoffs by scoring nine times in three straight wins against Ottawa. Only four teams in league history have battled back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
Blackhawks at Wild, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Like the Habs, the Minnesota Wild will look to stave off elimination tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild have also had scoring issues scoring just once in two games. Corey Crawford has won four straight games while posting a .963 save percentage. A Blackhawks victory will send Chicago to the Western Conference finals for a third consecutive spring.