Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Clear skies in Montreal as Lightning fail to strike

By Josh Thomas

The Montreal Canadiens went into Tuesday night with a 3-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning and a chance to complete the sweep.

The Habs once again used the electric Bell Centre crowd to propel them to an excellent first period. Dale Weise and Daniel Briere connected early in the first period to give the Habs a 1-0 lead. Lars Eller added one with 4:39 left in the period to extend the lead to two.

The Habs continued their strong play in the second until Ondrej Palat was able to bang one past Carey Price shorthanded 4:32 into the period. Tampa's goal wasn't without controversy as it appeared that the referee blew the whistle prior to the puck entering the net, but the referee, after initially calling it no goal, decided that it was in fact a goal and video review could not support the Canadiens' claim that the ref blew the whistle prior to the puck being jammed in.

 Montreal showed no quit as Brendan Gallagher was able to place a snap shot inside the post just one minute later. This marked the end of Lightning goalie Anders Lindback's night.

Despite a very strong first 40 minutes by the Habs, the lightning were able to battle back in the third with goals by Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson three minutes apart.

With overtime seeming imminent Cedric Paquette tripped Michael Bournival sending the Canadiens powerplay to work. 

There was no better time for the Canadiens dormant powerplay to explode. Excellent control on the wall by Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec led to an open point for PK Subban and he dished it over to Thomas Vanek who shot the puck on net. Pacioretty was able to clean up the rebound with just 43 seconds left in the game sending the crowd into frenzy mode.

The Habs now await the winner of the Detroit-Boston series and will have at least a week off before they open the second round.

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