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The Lightning scored two goals in each period of a 6-3 victory over the Canadiens in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Friday at Bell Centre in Montreal to move to within one win of repeating as Cup champions.
Tyler Johnson scored two goals and Jan Rutta, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Blake Coleman had one apiece as Tampa Bay stormed to a commanding three-games-to-none lead in the series. They will have the first of four chances to clinch Monday in Montreal.
Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves on 35 shots to outplay Carey Price (24-29) for a third consecutive game.
Rutta and Hedman scored in the opening minutes of the game, giving Tampa Bay a quick 2-0 lead. Phillip Danault got one back for Montreal later in the period, but Kucherov and Johnson opened the second period with two quick goals, extending the Lightning lead to 4-1.
Nick Suzuki scored on an end-to-end rush with less than two minutes left in the second period to trim the Canadiens’ deficit to 4-2.
The Lightning’s Johnson and Canadiens’ Corey Perry exchanged goals in the final four-plus minutes of the game, and Blake Coleman added an empty-netter for Tampa Bay.
Here’s how it happened:
Anthony Cirelli fans on shot from the right circle off the rush after a beautiful backhand cross-ice pass from Stamkos
Pat Maroon hits the post after a pass into the slot from Johnson
Gustafsson shot from the left point blocked by Coleman
Weber shot turned aside by Vasilevskiy
Armia shot from the slot doesn’t get through
Merrill lays out to block shot from the right circle
Vasilevskiy makes a glove save on Gustafsson shot from the center point with two Canadiens blocking his view in front of the net
Vasilevskiy with a left pad save on Weber shot from the right side
Vasilevskiy stops Staal attempt from below the left circle
Sergachev shot from the left point swallowed up by Price
Perry has a chance in front but can’t get the puck past Vasilevskiy
Danault misses the net from the left circle off the rush
Palat picks off a pass in the defensive zone and clears the puck out of the zone
LIGHTNING GOAL! Tyler Johnson scores backhanded on a rebound of his own shot after a turnover just outside the Montreal blue line. Lightning 5, Canadiens 2
Canadiens pull Price for an extra attacker
CANADIENS GOAL: Perry scores on a bad-angle shot past McDonagh and over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder. Lightning 5, Canadiens 3
Vasilevskiy makes a save on Chiarot from below the right circle off the rush
LIGHTNING GOAL! Blake Coleman scores into an empty net. Lightning 6, Canadiens 3
LIGHTNING GOAL! Nikita Kucherov scores backhanded off a pass through the crease from Ondrej Palat. Erik Cernak sprung Palat with a stretch pass as the Canadiens were in the midst of a line change. LIGHTNING 3, CANADIENS 1.
LIGHTNING GOAL! Tyler Johnson from low in the slot on a rebound of a Mathieu Joseph shot. LIGHTNING 4, CANADIENS 1.
Erik Cernak shoots off the right post
Price moves right to left to rob Kucherov, who thought he scored from the side of the net on a wraparound
Hedman knocks Perry to the ice in the Lightning zone
Hedman makes a kick save on a Shea Weber shot
Hedman shot sticked aside by Price
Hedman stick gets caught between the boot and blade of Perry’s skate
Vasilevskiy saves Jeff Petry wrist shot
CANADIENS GOAL: Nick Suzuki goes end-to-end to score from the right circle, beating Vasilevskiy under the pad. Lightning 4, Canadiens 2.
(Lightning lead 4-2 after two periods)
Mikhail Sergachev shot from the left circle blocked out of play by Corey Perry
Jan Rutta shot from the right point absorbed by Carey Price
Andrei Vasilevskiy makes a pad save on Jon Merrill from the left faceoff dot with Barclay Goodrow providing back pressure
Rutta shot from the right point misses the net
LIGHTNING GOAL! Rutta scores from the right point through a screen at 1:52. Lightning 1, Canadiens 0.
Eric Staal penalized for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass
LIGHTNING GOAL! Victor Hedman scores from the center point on the power play. Lightning 2, Canadiens 0.
Blake Coleman goes hard into the boards after missing a check on Joel Edmundson
Lightning nearly score again as Price stops Erik Cernak shot from the slot, then has to reach back to clear the puck after it deflects off Steven Stamkos toward the net
Rutta shot saved from the right point saved by Price, and Nikita Kucherov misses the net on a rebound attempt from the slot
Artturi Lehkonen misses the net from the left circle
Cole Caufield hits the right post from the high slot
Corey Perry tries to put a puck on net from the left side by it’s blocked by Hedman
Vasilevskiy stops Joel Armia shot from low in the right circle
Ryan McDonagh ties up Josh Anderson, preventing a potential breakaway
Price stops David Savard shot from the right circle
CANADIENS GOAL: Phillip Danault scores his first goal of the playoffs off the post from the left circle with Brendan Gallagher driving hard to the net. Lightning 2, Canadiens 1.
Steven Stamkos shot covered by Price
Nick Suzuki bad-angle shot stopped by Vasilevskiy
Anderson shot blocked by Mikhail Sergachev
Tyler Johnson shot from the right circle hits Price in the mask
Gallagher shot from high in the right circle kicked aside by Vasilevskiy
Sergachev penalized for interference against Lehkonen as he went to the net
Toffoli shot misses the net
Vasilevskiy makes a glove save on Gustaffson shot from the right point with Perry setting a screen in front
Vasilevskiy makes a blocker save on Anderson shot from the top of the right circle
LIghtning kill the penalty
(Lightning lead 2-1 after one period)
Pregame scouting report
Can you taste it yet? Surely, the Lightning can.
It was obvious from the way they closed out their 3-1 win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday at Amalie Arena: staying aggressive, defending as a five-man unit, making responsible decisions with the puck and counterattacking when the opportunities presented themselves.
Give it a third-period lead, and no team closes out a playoff game better than Tampa Bay.
It’s as if the players know that with each minute that ticks off the clock, they are one step closer to repeating as Stanley Cup champions.
Now, after beating the Canadiens by a combined score of 8-2 in the first two games of the Cup final, the Lightning are within two victories of doing just that.
Win tonight and Monday in Montreal, and the Bolts will become just the third team besides the Canadiens to hoist the Cup in Montreal, joining the New York Rangers (1928) and Calgary Flames (1989), who won at the Forum. Lose either game, and the series will move back to Tampa for Game 5 on Wednesday.
The Lightning will have to do it without injured top-six forward Alex Killorn, who is out for a second consecutive game. As in Game 2, center Tyler Johnson is expected to move up to the second line to play left wing alongside center Anthony Cirelli and right wing Steven Stamkos, with Mathieu Joseph slotting in for Johnson on the fourth line.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens will welcome back interim coach Dominique Ducharme, who had been in isolation for the past 14 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Ducharme had participated in meetings virtually while assistant Luke Richardson filled in behind the bench.
There will be considerably fewer fans at the games in Montreal than the 17,166 that attended Game 2 in Tampa, as Quebec’s Public Health Department will not allow more than 3,500 inside Bell Centre. Still, it’s a marked improvement over last season’s final, when no fans were allowed inside Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Follow our live updates, starting at 8 p.m., as the Lightning hope to move to within one win of planning another celebratory boat parade down the Hillsborough River.
We’re almost there.
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