TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning will head to the Bell Centre in a tough spot, after suffering a 4-1 setback to the Montreal Canadiens Friday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Game Two loss puts the Bolts in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series with the next two gameson the road.
“It’s cliché, but you focus on Game 3,” Ryan Callahan said. “That’s all you can control. These two are behind us, you go win that Game 3 and it’s a brand new series. The odds are against us, it’s a tough place to play, but we stick together in here and we go in there and we have to show our character.”
The beginning of the tilt looked more like the Bolts from their regular season series versus the Canadiens. Spending nearly a minute in the Habs’ zone to start the first, the Bolts put five shots on net before Anders Lindback made a confident first save of the game on David Desharnais. Lindback then made another solid stop with his leg pad on Brian Gionta’s breakaway less than five minutes into the frame.
“We’re showing periods of sustaining pressure and getting chances,” Callahan said. “There’s just not enough of it throughout the game. We need to find a way to do that consistently.”
But by the end of the period the Bolts lost steam, registering zero shots on goal in the last seven and a half minutes. During that span, Steven Stamkos also went to the box for four minutes for high-sticking, but the double minor was cancelled out when Montreal was called for too many men on the ice.
The second period started as sluggish as the first ended. A tripping call on Richard Panik led to the Canadiens’ first goal of the game less than three minutes into the second. Six seconds later, P.K. Subban drilled a shot from the blue line off of a winning draw that Desharnais deflected in top shelf on Lindback.
“They scored a really nice power-play goal,” Stamkos said. “Those are ones where you just line up and try to get yourself back in the game. Then they got another one and we were behind the eight ball a little bit.”
While the Habs went back to clogging the neutral zone against the Lightning, opportunities came its way. Back-to-back wraparound attempts from Alex Killorn and Stamkos came up empty, with neither of them taking a shot, while Teddy Purcell also weaved through two Canadiens to fire one on net, but Carey Price made the save.
Montreal managed to convert its chances however, grabbing the first two-goal lead of the series midway through the game. Rene Bourque avoided defenseman Sami Salo and Lindback’s poke check to score glove side.
Brendan Gallagher increased the lead to 3-0 at 11:46 of the third, which prompted head coach Jon Cooper to make a change between the pipes.
“We needed something,” Cooper said. “Sometimes you’re grasping for straws at some point because you’re trying to win a hockey game. We were looking for a spark.”
Yet when facing his first rush, replacement goalie Kristers Gudlevskis allowed the Lightning’s fourth goal of the contest.
Teddy Purcell spoiled Price’s shutout in the last two minutes of play, but the damage had already been done for their second loss in as many games.
“You just have to turn the page,” Stamkos said. “You learn from the things that aren’t going well and you try to apply them in the next game. There’s no dwelling on things at this time of the year. There’s no feeling sorry for yourself. It’s about finding a way to dig a little deeper and pretty much live for another day.”