Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning welcomed in the Montreal Canadiens to Amalie Arena. The game was the beginning of a five-game home stand that would see visits from the Maple Leafs, Predators, Hurricanes and Jets. Since the Bolts had a season long four game losing streak back at the end of November the Lightning have won four games and lost four games in regulation. During overtime though they are 2-1 in the month of December, their one overtime win was against the Capitals in a shootout on December 3rd.
Braydon Coburn would cause the first Canadiens goal early in the opening period. With the Canadiens bearing down on the Lightning defensive zone, Coburn would get the puck almost right behind Vasilevskiy. Instead of clearing the puck around the boards as most NHL defensemen do when the other team is breathing down their neck Coburn tried to clear it straight up the middle of the ice. Montreal’s Alexander Radulov who was parked in front of Vasilevskiy got a hold of the puck and chipped it past the young Lightning netminder for an easy 1-0 to start the game. This is no longer bad luck as far as the slow starts for the Lightning. This has become a down right trend and not a good one. Around the mid-way point of the first period Tampa started buzzing in the Montreal zone. Kucherov would bring the puck nearly to the pads of Carey Price, but would pass the puck at the last minute to Tyler Johnson for a wide-open shot. The goal, Johnson’s 10th of the season would end up tying the game up at 1-1. Kucherov and Ondrej Palat would tally the assists on the goal. As Hedman headed to the box a short time later Shea Webber would continue his dominance on the man advantage notching a goal on the power play. The goal was barely 10 seconds into the penalty. In these last few losses I have noticed a bad trend coming back. For some reason this team at times tries too hard to look for the perfect pass and shot. Instead of firing as many pucks on net as they can, they wait and pass and wait and then lose the puck. As the first period, would come to an end Tampa would have a couple opportunities to close out the period, but were unable to tie the score back up.
Montreal wouldn’t wait long in the second to extend the lead, but not before Carey Price showed why he has the second-best goals against average in the NHL. Early in the 2nd period Ondrej Palat and the Lightning would go hard at Price at the Canadiens. Palat would get a golden opportunity to tie the game up, but Price had other ideas as he robbed him so bad in front of the net Palat filed out a police report on the bench. Shortly after the Canadiens netminder kept the score from being tied, Chris Terry would take a pass to the right of Vasilevskiy from Daniel Carr and have yet another easy chip in shot to extend the lead 3-2. Tampa is getting the opportunities at times, but neither team is really shooting the puck much. Near the mid-way point of the 2nd total shots on goal equaled 20. Tampa had nine shots on goal while Montreal had 11. With just over five minutes to go and the Lightning pressuring in the Canadiens zone I watched the Lightning pass no less than five times. Sure, there is time when you must set up the shot, but this team is known for passing too much and not shooting enough. It’s become an achilleas heal for them that no matter how god they are playing they will always go back to it. No Matter how hard the Lightning tried all their god chances got gobbled up by Price who continues to be one of the best goalies in the NHL year in and year out.
The third period would be a big difference maker for the Lightning. In the second and third periods the Bolts were able to get more shots on Canadiens goalie Carey Price and it paid off. With 11 minutes gone in the third Victor Hedman to a nice shot above the right face-off circle that got past Price to cut the Canadiens lead to just one goal. Nearly five minutes later while on the power play following a questionable hit by Shea Weber on Vlad Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat was able to tie the game on the man advantage as he controlled the play around Price. Palat put a shot on net that like Hedman’s was able to get past Carey Price who coming into this game had a 1.91 goals against average. The Bolts woul battle mightily for the final few minutes of regulation before a common hero would step up during over time to cap off a three-goal comeback. Tyler Johnson would notch his 2nd goal of the night 1:36 into over to give the Lightning a much need win at home to start the five game home stand.
Up Next: Tomorrow night Auston Mathews and the Toronto Maple Leafs will come into Amalie Arena for game two of the home stand.
Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star: Nikita Kucherov – Would get two assists on his first game back after missing extended time with a lower body injury.
2nd Star: Ondrej Palat – the game tying goal and an assist on Tyler Johnson’s first goal of the game after also returning from an injury.
1st Star: Tyler Johnson – Notched the Lightning’s first goal of the night and their final goal to give the Bolts a much-needed home win against a tough Montreal Canadiens team.