Andrei Vasilevskiy the difference as Lightning defeat the Canadiens for the second time in six days.
The Tampa Bay Lightning solidified their playoff spot with 2-1 victory of the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. First period goals from Steven Stamos and Nikita Kucherov coupled with Andrei Valsilevskiy 39 saves condemned the Habs to their fourth straight defeat, much to the disbelief of Coach Claude Julien.
“To me, we were the better team tonight. Anybody that watched the game and that knows the game, knows we were the better team,” said Julien. “That’s because we had our guys, our young guys and our call-ups, everybody from the first guy to the last guy working hard and competing hard and caring. I just wish we could have a positive result at the end of the game to reward these guys for how hard they’re working.”
Steven Stamos put the Tampa Bay Lightning ahead after just 42 seconds with his fifteenth of the season, deflecting an Erik Cernak shot past the hapless Carey Price. Lukas Vejdemo forced the first of many great saves from Valsilevskiy two minutes later as the Habs looked to tie the game. Seconds after the games first powerplay concluded Jeff Petry tied the game at 1-1 Nick Cousins with the assist.
The lightning regained the lead capitalizing on a miscommunication between goaltender Carey Price and Victor Mete. Brayden Point pouncing on the loose puck before Nikita Kucherov restored the Lightnings one-goal advantage. Andrei Vasilevskiy produced another stunning save with his right pad to deny Max Domi before denying Nick Suzuki with just 27 seconds left in the first period.
During the second period, the Canadiens penned the Lightning in their own zone on several occasions. The tireless forechecking and drive on display rousing the crowd into a frenzy as the home team outshot the visitors 14-7. Jordan Weal, Nick Suzuki, and Nick Cousins among a few denied by the brilliance of Vasilevskiy.
“I felt very good,” said Vasilevskiy, who collected his 18th win of the season. ”Lots of shots against and I stayed in the game the whole time. I’ve said this before: it’s easier for me to play with 30 or 40 shots against, than 10 shots against. We did a great job blocking shots too.”
Victor Hedman threw himself in front of Max Domi’s shot just 64 seconds into the third period. Hedman’s efforts a highlight as the Lightning blocked 21 shots throughout the evening. Midway through the third Ben Chiarot’s inability to settle the puck proved costly as Vasilevskiy made a comfortable save. Penalties for Ben Chiarot (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Victor Hedman (slashing) provided some four-on-four action that neither team managed to capitalize on. With 1.50 remaining the Habs pushed one final time but we’re unable to make the breakthrough during the 6-on-5.
The Tampa Bay Lightning face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, whilst the Montreal Canadiens entertain the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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