MONTREAL – It was not going to be easy and it was going to take an entire commitment from the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they had the confidence that they could get the job done.
Sixty-five minutes with 45 shots on goal, plus three rounds of a shootout later, the Lightning did just that, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 via Valtteri Filppula’s shootout game-winner. It was his second game-winning shootout goal this season.
“It was a character win,” Martin St. Louis said. “It’s just about finding a way, I thought we did.”
And with Montreal goaltender Carey Price allowing one goal on those 45 Bolts shots through regulation and overtime, Bishop knew he needed to help his team from the backend.
“Whenever you see someone like that, saving their team, there’s going to be at least one where you have to come up big for your team, you think about matching the other goalie a bit,” Bishop said.
Bishop and the Lightning were within 4:38 of a shutout, but instead found themselves in the extra frame and a shootout, where both goalies were outstanding still. Price and Bishop were the first and second star of the game, respectively.
“Carey Price, an outstanding goaltender, he made a bunch of big time saves, but you have to give our guy credit on the other end of the ice too,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “They might not have had the same number of shots as us, but they had some really good ones. If you’re going to win hockey games, you need your goaltender to play well and it was a good exhibition on both ends tonight.”
The Lightning did exactly what they needed to do after the circumstances that surrounded the team following a loss to Boston, and that was to take the lead against Montreal. Five minutes into the opening period, B.J. Crombeen, who was in the left corner of the Habs’ zone, sent a pass along the board up to Eric Brewer at the point. Brewer took the initial shot and Ryan Malone deflected it in while sitting on the ice, for a 1-0 lead. The tally was Malone’s second goal in three games.
In the second period Tampa Bay nearly saw their lead double, as a shot by Radko Gudas clearly hit the back of the Habs’ net, yet the whistle was not blown. After the next stoppage in play, the referee reviewed the play, but said Tyler Johnson had incidental contact with Montreal goaltender Carey Price, despite acknowledging the puck went in the cage.
It did not phase the Bolts however, as they controlled more than half of the middle frame in the offensive zone. They also held the Canadiens to one shot by the midway point of the game and only five in the frame for a two period total of 13. On the other hand, the Lightning added 13 for 23 shots through two.
With countless pressure being put on Bishop in the third period, he finally broke with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Max Pacioretty sent a pass to Daniel Briere, who was setup right in front of Bishop. Briere finished the play and knotted the game at one at 4:38 of the third, which eventually forced overtime. Briere was playing in his first game since October 19 when he suffered a concussion.
Despite have 2:56 of power-play time, the Lightning were unable to deliver a goal on the man-advantage in extra time, going 0-for-5 on the night on the power-play.
Then in the shootout, Filppula scored the lone goal on either end, saving the Bolts from suffering consecutive losses for the first time this season. It also kept their overtime/shootout record a flawless 6-0.
UP NEXT – The Lightning will travel back to Tampa Bay tomorrow and exercise an off-day, before Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the Anaheim Ducks. They will hit the road once again to the West Coast Friday for games against the Phoenix Coyotes, L.A. Kings, San Jose Sharks and the Ducks. The Bolts finish out November’s slate with three games at the Tampa Bay Times Forum during Thanksgiving week.