Lightning ride Vasilevskiy, Coleman goal to steal Game 2 vs. Canadiens

A night after Marc-Andre Fleury won the 2021 Vezina Trophy over Andrei Vasilevskiy, Vasilevskiy made a compelling argument that he might just be peerless. Coincidence? Probably, but the Lightning will take it. Thanks to Vasilevskiy and an incredible Blake Coleman goal, the Lightning took a 2-0 series lead against the Canadiens via a 3-1 win in Game 2.

When you ponder how well the Habs performed, they shouldn’t be hopeless. But then again, finishing so close can hurt that much more. Especially when you consider a few stats after the Lightning beat the Canadiens in Game 2 (via the NHL):

  • Teams that own a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final hold an all-time series record of 46-5 (.902).
  • When leading 2-0 in a best-of-seven, the Lightning own an all-time series record of 8-0 (1.000) and a 12-6 (.667) mark when tied 1-1.

Andrei Vasilevskiy needed to make 42 saves, only allowing a single Montreal goal on the power play. After Nikita Kucherov improved his Conn Smythe chances in Game 1, Vasilevskiy emerged in Game 2.

Canadiens dominate second period of Game 2, but Coleman, Vasilevskiy give Lightning lead

Considering how Carey Price has played during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Habs probably aren’t used to getting “goalie’d” lately. But that’s what happened in Game 2, especially when the Canadiens fired a ton of chances at Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning.

During the first period of Game 2, the Canadiens generated more shots on goal (13-6), but it was the second where the Habs really took it to the Lightning (16-7). Now, there was some element of quantity-over-quality (at even-strength, high-danger chances were close by Natural Stat Trick’s numbers). But it was still stunning to see how extreme the disparity of play was between the Canadiens and Lightning at times through the first 40 minutes of Game 2.

The first two goals matched some of the early tallies from Game 1, as they were odd. Both Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy were beat on relatively harmless-looking shots that boiled down to a mix of screening issues and odd bounces.

That Blake Coleman goal

With less than a full second left, Blake Coleman’s goal was just remarkable. Once again, the Lightning capitalized on a small turnover from the Canadiens, with Barclay Goodrow setting up Coleman for one of the best goals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On its own, the Blake Coleman goal was great. Context makes it even better.

This was a painful 2-1 Tampa Bay goal after that dominant second period by Montreal. That it beat the buzzer only makes it more remarkable.

Oh yeah, and Blake Coleman has a knack for these types of diving goals. He’s done this at least three times now:

With both that Coleman goal and a key 3-1 goal by Ondrej Palat, the Lightning continued to pounce on Canadiens turnovers — small, medium, and big — in Game 2. Joel Edmundson made a questionable pass, and Ondrej Palat beat Carey Price for a helpful insurance tally.

The Canadiens couldn’t beat Vasilevskiy more than once in Game 2, so the Lightning are now up 2-0. As the 2021 Stanley Cup Final switches to Montreal starting in Game 3 on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBC / Peacock), the Canadiens have to hope that they get rewarded more often for their hard work against the Lightning.

CANADIENS VS. LIGHTNING (TB leads series 2-0)

Game 1: Lightning 5, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Lightning 3, Canadiens 1
Game 3: Fri. July 2: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock) – livestream
Game 4: Mon. July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock) – livestream
*Game 5: Wed. July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 6: Fri. July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sun. July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (NBC / Peacock)

*if necessary

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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