Canadiens need bounce-back from best players in Stanley Cup Final

TAMPA, Fla. — The loser of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final has won the championship each of the past three years.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will likely end that streak if the Montreal Canadiens do not get a better showing from their offensively talented line of Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli.

While the Canadiens have a knack for bouncing back this postseason, the series opener was an eye-opener against Tampa Bay’s top trio of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Because the Lightning get the last line change again in Game 2 on Wednesday night, coach Jon Cooper can get Point’s line on the ice against Suzuki’s as much as he wants, and that does not appear to be a favorable matchup for Montreal.

“It looks like they want to play against us the whole time, so we have to do a better job,” Suzuki said, noting his two turnovers as part of his line’s problems. “You just have to do a better job of cleaning up turnovers, limit their time and space and try our best to keep them off the scoresheet.”

That did not happen in Game 1, when Point’s line scored twice on Suzuki’s line on the way to breaking it open for a 5-1 victory. Giving the puck away against that caliber of opponents isn’t a recipe for Montreal hanging with Tampa Bay.

Of course, the Canadiens have felt this way before, looking outclassed in the semifinal opener against Vegas before roaring back and winning in six games. The memory of taking over against Vegas and erasing a 3-1 series deficit to beat Toronto in the first round has players confident they can replicate those comebacks.

It starts with acknowledging how bad Game 1 was.

“We were pretty far from our best game,” center Phillip Danault said. “I felt like we were a little bit like against Vegas (in Game 1), kind of looking. We’ve got some young guys, … Just got to step up and play our game and be confident.”

Montreal’s best game is getting a lead, buckling down defensively and counting on goaltender Carey Price to make saves. Acting coach Luke Richardson said Monday was one of his team’s worst performances in recent weeks and blamed poor puck management.

Richardson insisted execution, not personnel, was the primary issue.

“Those are going to be the adjustments: to make sure we’re playing a little smarter with the puck,” Richardson said. “They’re going to create their own offense. We don’t have to help them in any way, that’s for sure. So if we can limit that to very little to none, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to have more energy for our own game plan and having more success.”

The Lightning’s game plan perfectly neutralized many of the things the Canadiens did to get this far, including Price and the penalty kill, which had a streak of 32 opportunities without a power-play goal snapped late in the third period.

Cooper and his team will also need to adjust to Montreal’s adjustments and will rely on a mature approach to playoff hockey.

“(We are) trying to get to the strength of our game as much as possible and wear teams down over the course of a long series,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “We always think big-picture that it might end up taking seven games, so if we stick with our details and continue to play with the pace and the structure and the pressure that we can do, we think it pays off in the long run.”

The Lightning know very well how to play the long game and how the Canadiens feel after losing a series opener. They did last year in the final falling behind to Dallas and last round against the New York Islanders.

Tampa Bay players have said on multiple occasions the Canadiens are “here for a reason” and that they won’t underestimate the opponent standing in their way of a second Cup championship. But the pressure is now squarely on Montreal to show it belongs.

Suzuki said the approach is trying to steal one on the road before going back home for Games 3 and 4 but also acknowledged Game 2 is “going to be a big one for confidence,

“We’ll respond well,” he said. “I think we just got a taste of what they bring to the table and we just have to match that intensity, match their compete and I think we can definitely play with these guys.”

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.