TAMPA – Head coach Jon Cooper may of said earlier that the goalies might be the most rusty of any player in their first game back from the holiday break, but it was quite the opposite for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens after a 2-1 final that ended in favor of the Habs in a shootout.
"It goes to show how much I know," Cooper said. "Especially for us, that was a tough start. Our timing was off, our passes were off everything was off. It was a good thing [Ben] Bishop was on because it could have got ugly quickly."
"I thought our team was a little rusty the first couple periods, but as for myself I felt fine," Ben Bishop said. "You can't win games when you show up for 20 minutes."
Registering only nine total shots on goal through the first 40 minutes, the Lightning changed course in the third to finish regulation with the 23-21 advantage in shots to guarantee the Bolts at least one point, which they eventually walked away with.
"We got caught chasing early on," Martin St. Louis said. "They had the puck a little more than we did, but in the third period I thought we really played our game."
Neither team could reach double digits for shots on goal by the end of the first resulting in a 0-0 game through 20. In the next period the Atlantic Division rivals exchanged one goal apiece for a tie game through two. Tomas Plekanec got the Canadiens on the board first with a backhander that managed to sneak by Bishop at 5:15. St. Louis answered back six and a half minutes later with a wrist shot from between the circles that found the back of the net glove side to tie the game at one. The goal extended St. Louis' point streak to a season-high six games.
With the game locked at one Montreal and Tampa Bay went to overtime where shots were 1-0 in favor of the Bolts. The Lightning then headed to familiar territory in their fourth shootout this month. Valtteri Filppula and Nikita Kucherov missed their chances in the first two rounds making it up to Teddy Purcell to match a Lars Eller's goal from round one, but he was unable to do so, snapping the Bolts five-game winning streak.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay will play the second half of back-to-back games Sunday evening at the Times Forum. The Lightning then head on the road for ten days as they tour Western Canada. Matchups on the road swing include the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.