Center Tomas Plekanec's early third-period goal stood as the
game-winner as the Canadiens took a commanding lead in the Eastern
Conference first-round playoff series with a 3-2 victory over the
Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night in the Bell Centre.
"We've seen many different scenarios in the playoffs and we have to
have the same approach for the next game that we've had for the past
three games," Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said of being one win
from advancing. "They're a good team. They had a lot of
opportunities tonight to score. You've got to give them credit."
Left winger Rene Bourque and right winger Brendan Gallagher also
scored for the Canadiens.
Tampa Bay's goals came from left winger Ondrej Palat and defenseman
Goaltender Carey Price made 27 saves for Montreal, which leads 3-0
in the best-of-seven series. Lightning goalie Anders Lindback
stopped 28 shots.
The ice was barely dry when Bourque sent the crowd into a frenzy
with his third goal in the past two games. Subban sent a bouncing
pass out of the Montreal zone to Bourque, waiting just outside the
Lightning blue line. The winger fended off Tampa Bay defenseman
Victor Hedman before tossing his shot short side on Lindback just 11
The goal was four seconds shy of the Canadiens' franchise record for
the quickest score to start an NHL playoff game, which was set by
Bob Gainey in 1977.
"It's always good to score early. You want to score early if you
can. Especially with the energy in this building, you want to get
one early and give them something else to cheer about," said Subban,
who finished with a game-high 28:03 of ice time. "They've been great
for us all year and they were great again tonight for us."
The quick strike prompted the raucous crowd to get on Tampa's
netminder with chants of "LIND-BACK" echoing through the building.
Lindback recovered from his rough start to keep his team in the game
the rest of the period, making several key saves as a four-minute
Lightning penalty expired and then later on back-to-back
opportunities by Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty.
The Lightning tied the score at 8:39 of the second period on the
power play. Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges was caught off-balance
in a battle with right winger Ryan Callahan and wound up tangled
with Price when Palat's shot from the slot found the back of the
Momentum appeared to be swinging in Tampa Bay's favor when it
thought it had gone ahead at 15:38 on a Callahan score, but the goal
was waved off because of goaltender interference.
"I was p----- then and I'm p----- now. That's my opinion," Lightning
coach Jon Cooper said.
"But," he added, "it's still a tie game. You have to turn the page.
Stuff like that happens."
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While not pleased with the decision, Cooper liked what he saw from
his team in the aftermath.
"I thought we played hard. I thought we were determined, I thought
we played with passion. I thought we responded unreal," he said.
"Clearly, that was the best game we've played in this series. I
thought (our guys) deserved a better fate tonight."
The strong stretch from the Lightning marked a rare time in the
series in which the Canadiens did not appear to be in control.
"We got off our game plan. We started making mistakes that we hadn't
made yet and that was our concern," Plekanec said.
Tampa Bay right winger Steven Stamkos left the game late in the
period after Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin accidentally kneed
Stamkos in the head as he was falling. He returned for the third
"It's the playoffs. You don't want to miss a shift. I'm not going to
get into specifics (about any injury)," the Lightning captain said.
"I didn't see the replay, so I don't know exactly what happened, but
I was just happy I could come back and finish."
Gallagher restored the Canadiens' lead after a strong effort by
Subban, who went from the Tampa Bay blue line around the net before
feeding the winger in the left faceoff circle at 18:10.
Plekanec put the Canadiens up by two at 5:43 of the third period
when he paused before moving in from the edge of the left circle to
the dot and then rifled a shot past Lindback.
Carle cut the deficit when he his shot from the blue line made it
through traffic to the back of the net.
NOTES: Lightning LW Ondrej Palat returned to the lineup after
missing Game 2 with an upper body injury. ... Palat's return was one
of several changes made by coach Jon Cooper, with RW Richard Panik,
RW Nikita Kucherov and D Mike Kostka swapped out in favor of RW B.J.
Crombeen, C Tom Pyatt and D Mark Barberio. ... Tampa Bay D Sami Salo
missed the game with an upper body injury. ... Montreal did not make
any lineup changes, once again scratching C Ryan White, LW Travis
Moen, RW George Parros and D Douglas Murray. ... Canadiens LW Rene
Bourque's first-period goal set a record for fastest goal at the
Bell Centre in a playoff game. The previous record was 25 seconds by
LW Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes on May 13, 2002.
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