The thought has been that Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos was “due” and that maybe a change in opponent in the Montreal Canadiens would finally light his fire.
That didn’t happen in Game 1 of the second round, however, as he failed to generate a point in a 2-1 double-overtime win for the Bolts.
Many focus on Stamkos’ zero goals so far in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, and for a while, that might not have been a fair narrative (people all too often ignore assists, for one thing). His lack of production is more glaring as time goes on, however; Stamkos only has one assist in the past six playoff games. He’s gone two straight contests without a point.
There are bright sides – he’s still shooting, his team is generally winning and he hasn’t been on the ice for a ton of goals allowed – yet the Habs are at the point where they’re quietly noticing his lack of points. Devante Smith-Pelly told NHL.com that he didn’t want to “jinx” their success.
“You look at the stat sheet and you see Stamkos didn’t have a goal, but at the same time that’s the guy you’re really worried about,” Smith-Pelly said. “If he gets one, chances are it’s going to snowball the wrong way for us. We did a good job and we’re going to continue to play hard on all their guys.”
Again, it’s not all bad, though.
Of course, the troubling thing for the Canadiens and other teams is that the Lightning are winning even with opponents neutralizing Stamkos. The line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov is picking up the slack to the point that his struggles haven’t been fatal. The Bolts are hoping they can keep this pick-your-poison proposition going.
For Stamkos’ perspective on his struggles, read this post.
Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien was upset with what he believed to be a missed offside call seconds before the Tampa Bay Lightning scored the double overtime winner in Game 1 on Friday.
Nikita Kucherov scored the goal. However, about 12 seconds before, it appears Tampa Bay is offside entering the Montreal zone on the rush. No call was made, and Kucherov eventually buried his shot from the slot.
“It’s really frustrating to lose a game on an offside. Those things aren’t supposed to happen,” said Therrien, as per John Lu of TSN.
In the first overtime, the Lightning appeared to have the winner, but the goal at the end of a Kucherov breakaway was disallowed when the official determined Kucherov forced the right pad of Carey Price into the net on the save.
Nikita Kucherov appeared to have the winner in the first overtime. No dice, the goal waved off when the referee determined goalie Carey Price had his right pad pushed into the net.
The disappointment of that moment was wiped away shortly after, as Kucherov ripped a wrist shot from the slot and by the left pad of Price to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 double-overtime victory and a 1-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.
This, too, was a controversial moment. About 12 seconds before Kucherov scored, the Lightning appeared to be offside as they entered the zone.
And so continues Tampa Bay’s winning ways over the Habs this season.
As one might expect with Ben Bishop and Price, Game 1 turned into a goalie duel, with both making terrific saves, including a Bishop glove stop with the pads stacked on Tomas Plekanec on a short-handed two-on-one rush that kept it a scoreless game in the second period.
Tyler Johnson gave Tampa Bay the lead early in the third period on a deflection for his seventh goal of the post-season, which leads all NHL players so far.
He was shaken up a few minutes later, after taking a cross check from Brendan Gallagher, but he did return.
Max Pacioretty sent the game to overtime. As good as Bishop was, making 43 saves for the eventual win, he whiffed on Pacioretty’s wrist shot late in the third period. It could’ve been a costly blunder.
However, Bishop made up for his one mistake, making 13 saves in overtime.