The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens are much different looking clubs than when they met in July to battle for the Stanley Cup. This season the two organizations have gone in completely different directions as the Habs sit in the basement of the Atlantic Division.
In the season with nothing going Montreal’s way, Tuesday night put an even worse taste in the mouths of everybody around the league’s most historic franchise. Tampa Bay came from behind and took a late lead in the final two minutes and change to earn the regulation victory in what was shaping up to be a disappointing loss to the inferior Canadiens.
Let’s break down what we took away from this one.
1. Scoring First
For the fifth straight game, the Lightning were able to score the game’s opening goal. Pat Maroon got the scoring started in what would be his second game in a row with a goal. Maroon was in the right place at the right time and was gifted a turnover from Montreal’s Kale Clague, who was making his debut with the Canadiens. Maroon got the puck at the side of the net and made a quick spin to throw the puck on net and it ended up going through. The Lightning were once again able to survive a less than stellar opening 10 minutes and earn the break to get out in front.
2. Getting the Best from Montreal
While the faces are very different from the last time they met, the Lightning had to expect everything they could handle from the struggling Canadiens. Tampa Bay did not have their best game and Montreal played very well. Montreal really started to push hard in the second period as they were able to score two goals in the span of about three minutes to take a 2-1 lead. Through the rest of the second and into the third, Montreal became a very difficult team to crack. Even with three powerplay opportunities, Tampa Bay was unable to connect on any, with two of them coming while trailing 2-1.
3. Perry is on Fire
Corey Perry cannot be stopped. In recent weeks, Perry has found his name all over the scoresheet, including three goals in the last two games. Perry scored with just over two minutes remaining in the third and the Lightning net empty. Steven Stamkos picked out a seam pass with the extra attacker and the puck had eyes for Perry as it bounced off his leg and in. The goal was not only a big one as it brought the score even late, but it was a big one for Perry who was on the other end of this rivalry a season ago with Montreal.
4. Two in Short Order for the Win
Just over a minute and a half after Perry’s tying goal, Tampa Bay came right back to snatch a late winner. Ondrej Palat finished off a 2-on-1 on a great feed from Alex Killorn. Palat drove to the net hard to get inside position and made a great move to beat Montreal’s Jake Allen for what would be the winning goal. The goal was a stunner as this game seemed destined for overtime as just 38 seconds separated Montreal from getting a point out of this one.
5. The Road Trip Rolls on
Tampa Bay now has won four games in a row covering a very difficult stretch of the schedule with travel and games seemingly every other day. With the win, the Lightning have now won the first three of their five game trip through the Eastern Conference. The most difficult test is still to come as the Lightning take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. The Leafs currently sit in a tie atop the Atlantic Division and won the first meeting against the Lightning in overtime on November 4th.