It is as close to a perfect game as it gets, and it left the Montréal Canadiens with a two game series lead, and left the Tampa Bay Lightning paying a hefty price – no pun intended.
Despite the Bolts looking hungry immediately after the initial puck drop, it was the Habs that showed consistency and speed, and that was the difference maker.
There was a ton of improvement over their game one performance. The forwards showed great support to the defensive unit, the turnover rate was much improved, and the goaltending of Carey Price was outstanding. Price stopped 26 of 27 shots (.962SV%), and he looked flawless and back to his normal self.
David Desharnais also got the 0-for power play monkey off the teams back, as he opened the scoring early in the second on the man advantage.
But the night – surprisingly – belonged to Rene Bourque. His highlight reel goal, as he split the defence, avoided Anders Lindback’s poke check, and steered the puck inside the post to light the lamp, seemed to be indicative as to how the rest of the game would be played.
It was a night of speed and tape to tape passing. Les Boys controlled every facet of the ice. They exited their defensive zone effectively, shut down the neutral zone, and cycled well in Tampa’s region of the ice.
Celebrations, however, need to be put aside. Although the team has taken a commanding position in this series, memories of the not-so-distant past are lingering with players and coaching staff alike.
In 2011, Montréal walked away from Boston’s TD Garden after taking the first two from the Bruins, only to go on and lose that series in seven games. The postseason of 2006 saw the Canadiens take the two opening games from the Hurricanes on Carolina ice, only to have the Canes take the next four straight to eliminate the Habs.
Granted, the Lightning are hardly a comparable team to the ’11 Bruins or the ’06 Canes, but those memories are still close at hand. There is still plenty more hockey to be played, and this is not the time to get cocky.
Brendan Gallagher put it this way:
“You don’t want to take your foot off the pedal. Going up 1-0 on the power play gave us momentum and we have to keep pushing.” ~B. Gallagher
We’ll find out Sunday if Les Glorieux manage to keep that pedal firmly suppressed.
Puck drops just after 19h00 in front of 21,273 fans in Le Centre Bell. Join us on Twitter @BleedBBR for live in-game Tweeting.
The game can be watched on CBC and listened to on TSN690.