It took just over three games and a third of a period, but the Lightning finally got a dose of what the Canadiens can do in Game 4.
Tampa Bay had found a way to open the scoring the entire series — until Monday night.
Montreal’s Josh Anderson scored with just over four minutes remaining in the first period to give the Canadiens their first lead of the Stanley Cup final.
The Lightning’s Barclay Goodrow evened the score late in the second, but the tie didn’t last long as Montreal’s Alexander Romanov found the back of the net just under nine minutes into the third for a 2-1 lead.
Anderson struck again in overtime, sneaking a shot past goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for a 3-2 Montreal win that forced Game 5 and allowed the Canadiens to avoid being swept.
Every time Tampa Bay pushed, Montreal had an answer.
Even on the Lightning’s four-minute power-play — a double-minor from Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber for high-sticking Ondrej Palat that extended from the final minute of the third period into the start of overtime — they couldn’t find a way to capitalize.
Montreal never allowed Tampa Bay to set up in the offensive zone, pushing it to the outside and clogging the neutral zone.
“Power plays that are split up in between periods, you just kind of lose your flow of the game and you have to start back up again,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “The faceoff doesn’t start in your own zone, but we had almost three minutes. ... We had some unreal looks in that power play and throughout the game, but they just didn’t go in tonight.”
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who hasn’t shown his real self in the first three games, wasn’t playing around Monday night with his season on the line. He stopped 32 of 34 shots (.941 percent), including nine on the penalty kill.
It took four games, but the hockey world finally saw the Canadiens team it expected to see in the final.
Lightning fall to 0-4 in overtime this postseason
Overtime hasn’t been the Lightning’s strong suit this postseason.
Tampa Bay has lost each of its four games that have gone to overtime, one in each round.
It’s a strange juxtaposition, since essentially the same group did so well last year when going to extra periods. The Lightning went 7-2 in overtime games (four of which required more than one extra period) on its way to the Stanley Cup title a year ago.
“Maybe it’s all evening out,” Cooper said. “I don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, we didn’t win the game in overtime.’ How did we get to overtime? We had ample chances to put this one away, and we didn’t.
“Eventually, if you let a team hang around enough, or long enough, they may get you, and tonight they did. So, I’m not worried about that overtime thing.”
Cooper said losing in overtime early in the extra period has been frustrating. None of the Lightning’s contests this postseason have made it to the six-minute mark.
Anderson scored the winning goal 3:57 into the extra period Monday.
“I’m not sure (what it is),” Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow said. “I thought it was a pretty even game tonight. Could have gone either way.”
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