It has been said all season long; when you are as good as the Tampa Bay Lightning there is always a target on your back. That becomes more evident near the end of the season especially against rivals. On Saturday afternoon, the Lightning welcomed in the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are effectively out of the playoff race, but didn’t play like it. Montreal led for the majority of the game, including to start the final period. Just when it looked like they might walk out of Amalie Arena with a win in regulation, Nikita Kucherov struck. The Lightning’s leading goal scorer added to his total when he tied the game back up with 6:17 to play in the final period. That goal sent the game to overtime. The Lightning couldn't take advantage of a power play in overtime and we headed to a shootout. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov scored in that shootout to give the Bolts a 3-2 victory.
Things didn’t get off to the greatest of starts for Tampa Bay. Adam Erne picked up a hooking penalty less than 3 minutes into the game. Towards the end of that penalty. Artturi Lehkonen fired the puck past Louis Domingue to give Montreal an early lead. Later in the period the Lightning answered with a power play goal of their own. Tyler Johnson’s fireball of a shot got past Antti Niemi to tie the game at 1. The Canadiens committed another penalty late in the period. The Bolts couldn’t score in those final 23 seconds, but would start the 2nd period with the man advantage.
The Lightning couldn’t take advantage of the remaining penalty minutes to take the lead early in the frame. The Canadiens would get an early goal for the 2nd straight period though. Alex Galchenyuk fired it past Domingue right at the 3 minute mark. The Bolts had a close call late in the period when Domingue blockered out a shot, but left the backside of the net open. Luckily, Jake Dotchin was there to clear the puck before Montreal could take advantage. Anton Stralman had a golden opportunity in the closing seconds, but Niemi sent it away to keep his team in front heading into the final period.
Charles Hudon, who assisted on both of Montreal’s goals went down with an apparent leg injury late in the period. He was able to skate off with the help of 2 of his teammates. J.T. Miller picked up a boarding penalty around the 7 minute mark. On that power play there was an extremely close call where Brendan Gallagher almost powered it past Domingue, but the Lightning goaltender was able to put his glove on it and keep it from crossing the line. After the Bolts survived that power play they put the pressure back on in the Montreal zone. Dotchin fired a shot on net, but Niemi was able to squeeze it between the legs to just keep it out of the net. Things were starting to look bleak for Tampa Bay, but then the big guns came through. Nikita Kucherov picked a great time to score his 34th goal of the season. That goal tied the game up with just over 6 minutes to play. Neither team could score in the final minutes to keep it from going to overtime.
The Lightning will have the next few days off before getting back at it on Tuesday. The Bolts will welcome the Ottawa Senators to Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop shortly after 7:30. Pregame coverage will begin an hour prior on News Radio 970 WFLA.
1. MTL - PPG - Lehkonen - (Hudon, Reilly) - 4:10
2. TBL - PPG - Johnson - (Sergachev, Gourde) - 13:43
1. MTL - Galchenyuk - (Hudon) - 3:00
1. TBL - Kucherov - (Stamkos, Miller) - 13:43
1. TBL - Erne - (Hooking) - 2:45
2. MTL - De La Rose - (Tripping) - 12:32
3. MTL - De La Rose - (High Sticking) - 19:36
1. MTL - Juulsen - (Delay of Game) - 6:39
2. MTL - Hudon - (Tripping) - 11:09
3. TBL - Erne - (Holding The Stick) - 11:09
1. TBL - Paquette - (Fighting) - 2:51
2. MTL -Benn - (Fighting) - 2:51
3. TBL - Miller - (Boarding) - 7:17
4. TBL - Kunitz - (High Sticking) - 15:58
SHOTS ON GOAL
Tampa Bay - 34
Montreal - 29