TAMPA — The Lightning locker room was closed for a while after Friday night's game with the Canadiens. Tampa Bay had lost 4-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to fall behind two games to none in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal. Home-ice advantage is a memory. There are questions about how to find sustainable offense, and goaltender Anders Lindback was pulled in the third period, which sparked speculation that rookie Kristers Gudlevskis might start Game 3 on Sunday in Montreal. All of a sudden, this series is about survival, and a team meeting was needed to rally the troops. "This group is very close, and we can be honest with each other," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "The message was we know what we can do and we have to pick it up Sunday because we've dug ourselves a little bit of a hole here."
"When you've got a team that cares, they take it upon themselves," coach Jon Cooper said. "That's why I like that group of guys. They know they have more in them. For them to talk about it, it's good for them."
What hasn't been good is the Lightning's lack of offensive thrust.
The team did have chances Friday, especially in the second period. But Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who had 26 saves, made a critical left-leg stop on Cedric Paquette's one-timer from in front of the net to preserve a 2-0 lead. And Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn failed to get off shots during what appeared to be prime opportunities.
And when Montreal focused on shutting down Tampa Bay in the third, the Lightning could barely get through the neutral zone. It did get a late power-play goal from Teddy Purcell.
"We need to try to get the puck a little bit more," center Valtteri Filppula said. "You have to give them credit. They're playing well defensively and not giving us a whole lot of room. Maybe we can get pucks in a little more and create some offense that way."
They sure need something, and fast.
Cooper said he tried to create a spark by pulling Lindback after Brendan Gallagher's short-side goal made it 3-0 8:14 into the third period.
"There's no goaltending controversy or anything like that," Cooper said. "He got the hook not for his play. We needed a spark. As a coach, sometimes you're grasping for straws. I thought putting 'Guddy' in would give us a lift."
Instead, the second shot Gudlevskis saw was Bourque's second goal for a 4-0 lead.
Overcoming a 2-0 series deficit is not impossible. The NHL says that 37 times in 291 previous series in which a team fell behind 2-0, the trailing team came back to win, 15 times when a team lost the first two at home. One of those was the 2002-03 Lightning, which lost twice to the Capitals before winning the series in six games.
"So we're not dead to rights yet," defenseman Matt Carle said.
Which was the point of the team meeting.
"There's no dwelling on things at this time of year," Stamkos said. "There's no feeling sorry for yourself. It's about finding a way. It's about digging a little deeper and giving yourself a chance to live for another day."
First Period—None. Penalties—Stamkos, TB, double minor (high-sticking), 15:30; Montreal bench, served by Bourque (too many men), 16:22.
Second Period—1, Montreal, Desharnais 1 (Subban, Pacioretty), 2:34 (pp). 2, Montreal, Bourque 1 (Vanek, Subban), 10:35. Penalties—Panik, TB (hooking), 2:28; Prust, Mon, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 2:56; Gudas, TB, minor-major (holding, fighting), 2:56; Desharnais, Mon (tripping), 7:29.
Third Period—3, Montreal, Gallagher 1, 11:46. 4, Montreal, Bourque 2 (Eller), 14:39. 5, Tampa Bay, Purcell 1 (Hedman, Filppula), 18:01 (pp). Penalties—Killorn, TB (holding), 9:14; Eller, Mon (hooking), 17:20. Shots on Goal—Montreal 10-8-8—26. Tampa Bay 11-8-8—27. Power-play opportunities—Montreal 1 of 4; Tampa Bay 1 of 2. Goalies—Montreal, Price 2-0-0 (27 shots-26 saves). Tampa Bay, Lindback 0-2-0 (23-20), Gudlevskis (11:46 third, 3-2). T—2:28. Referees—Tim Peel, Chris Rooney. Linesmen—Scott Driscoll, Mark Shewchyk.