Ryan Malone completed a dramatic comeback for the Tampa Bay Lightning, leading them to a dramatic overtime win in Montreal. The Bolts were dominant throughout, out-shooting the Habs 47-27, but Carey Price was magnificent between the pipes for Montreal, actually allowing his team to improbably hold a lead for large parts of the game.
Montreal usually does well when Maxim Lapierre scores. A bad turnover by the Bolts left Lapierre unmarked in the slot, and he had acres of space and plenty of time to beat Mike Smith with a powerful shot to give the Habs the early lead. But sustained momentum was hard to come by early on. Both teams had power play opportunities, but proceeded to nullify their opportunities by committing infractions while they had the man advantage.
Price delivered a very polished first period performance. He denied Teddy Purcell on numerous occasions and Martin St. Louis couldn’t find a way past Price, who was playing with confidence and poise.
The Habs doubled their lead as the first period came to an end. Mike Cammalleri’s shot came straight back to him with Bolts keeper Smith at full stretch. Cammalleri had a possible shot but instead used fantastic vision to pick out Tomas Plekanec, who was wide open for an easy second goal.
The second period was all about Price. However, Tampa Bay halved the home side’s lead when Brett Clark’s shot from the point deflected past the Montreal stopper. The visitors plugged away at the Canadiens, but Price was equal to almost everything thrown his way.
Something finally gave for Montreal, and St. Louis beat Price with a wrist-shot to tie the score. But the Habs quickly regained the lead as Andrei Kostitsyn struck back almost immediately with a clever backhander.
Montreal had the lead, but Price was still facing a lot of shots as the Lightning made a desperate attempt to tie the game.
With just over two minutes left, P.K. Subban took a debatable penalty for slashing. It proved to be decisive as Lecavalier found Stamkos all alone and he fired the puck past Price to even the score, and that’s how regulation ended.
The Bell Centre crowd was irate, but the Lightning had no complaints as their persistence had finally paid off.
Ryan Malone was quickest to react when Price lost sight of the puck, and he put home the puck from close range to clinch the overtime win.
It was a tough loss for the Habs, but Tampa Bay was by far the better team. Their puck movement was fantastic, and they have scoring threats on every line. Guy Boucher has a lot of talented players and they showed why against the Canadiens.
Montreal peaked too early, and took several poorly timed penalties. Still, this is certainly a game Montreal feels they should have won.
The Habs got by last season with solid goaltending. Jaroslav Halak was given a lot of protection last year. However, the current Canadiens are having problems defensively without Andrei Markov, and that weakness was exploited by a dangerous Bolts team.