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Back To Back Beatdown by Lightning over Canadiens

On the heels of their win in Toronto over the Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning traveled to Montreal. Tonight, they face the Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre. Clearly, the Lightning would like to duplicate the result against Les Habitants. Despite their place in the Atlantic Division, currently dead last, Montreal has won four of their last five games. Obviously, the Lightning want to take the momentum from last night’s big win and turn that into a back-to-back victory tonight. 

The Lightning are starting Matt Tomkins in net to give their stalwart, Andrei Vasilevskiy a rest. This is Tomkins fourth NHL start and he is 1 – 2 in his three previous games. The good news is that his one win was against Montreal. After dropping the mitts with Ryan Reaves last night, Tanner Jeannot is out of the lineup for tonight. For the home team, Cayden Primeau starts in net. Primeau is 8 – 7 this year but with a respectable 2.75 goals against average. His save percentage of .913 is very respectable. Always good to see one of the best players who ever wore a Bolts sweater – Marty St. Louis. Even if he is standing behind the Montreal bench. 

Bringing the Intensity

Some teams have a tendency to have a let down after a big emotional win. That was definitely the case for the Lightning last night. They made a statement with that game against the Leafs. Any let down from that highly emotional game would be understandable. But not this time of year. Every team with a desire to play in the postseason needs every point it can get. That is definitely the case for the Lightning. 

Conversely, a team that has zero chance of the playoffs can be a dangerous team to play this time of year. Don’t believe me? Ask Florida, Philadelphia or Colorado. Three of the last four wins for the Canadiens were against these playoff bound teams. While the Lightning have also been very hot lately, they cannot take the Canadiens for granted

As this game was heading into the third minute, the Canadiens struck first. Joel Armia tapped in a rebound past Tomkins to open the game’s scoring. The Lightning were seeing why this team going nowhere isn’t playing like they know that fact. Now, the home crowd is into the game trying to carry their team to another goal. 

Well, the Lightning had an answer. On their first power play chance of the night, Nick Paul tied the game at one. He jammed in a rebound of a Brayden Point shot for the Lightning’s first goal.

Bringing Back To Back Intensity

Once the game was knotted at one, both teams seemed to settle into the game. Back and forth for most of the second half of the opening period, the game remained tied. With less than four minutes remaining, Mikey Eyssimont skating at full tilt, took the puck in on Primeau on his backhand. Somehow, someway, Eyssimont tapped the puck past Primeau to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead. That is how the first period ended.

As the second period began, the Lightning were playing tight defense. After all, the Canadiens were one good shot from tying it up. Sure enough, Armia snapped the puck past Tomkins for his second goal of the game. With 15 minutes left in the second period, it’s Lightning 2 – Joel Armia 2. 

If the Lightning are going to earn this back-to-back win, they need to send that message now. The longer they allow the lowly Canadiens to stay in this game, the harder they will play to take away this win from Tampa. Just ask the Panthers or the Flyers or the Avalanche.

Back to Back to Back to Back Goals

In less than 10 minutes, the Lightning rained down goals on the Canadiens. Four straight in the second period to leave no doubt to the opponent, their fans or anyone watching this game. Steven Stamkos made the game 3-2 on a beautiful tape to tape feed by Anthony Cirelli.

Next up was Paul with his second goal of the game. He snapped a blister of a shot that hit the crossbar and found the back of the net.

From there it was Brandon Hagel. Primeau got his blocker on the Hagel slapshot but the puck fluttered past him to make it 5 – 2.

The Back to Back Result

Before the second period ended, Nikita Kucherov on the power play wristed a one timer past Primeau to give the Lightning a 6 -2 lead.

As the teams came out for the final regulation period, the Lightning had over three and a half minutes of power play time. While they had a ton of zone time, they came up empty. Now, the question becomes does this penalty kill lift the Canadiens? A four goal deficit is tough to overcome. However, the Lightning proved in the second period, one goal can lead to more. Sometimes, it can lead to four. 

Just past the eight minute mark of the third period, Juraj Slafkovsky tipped in a shot from Arber Xhekaj for Montreal’s third goal of the game. Yes, those are real surnames though both of these guys can moonlight as eye test charts. 

Three minutes after getting their third goal, the Canadiens scored their fourth. Cole Caufield snapped one past Tomkins that made it 6 – 4, Lightning. Still a little over nine minutes left. Nail biting time for the Bolts. 

With five minutes remaining, St. Louis pulled his goalie. Desperation can be a tough opponent. The Lightning held tough and with just under a minute left, Stamkos scored an empty net goal for the final score of 7 – 4, Lightning. 

Three Stars

  1. Nick Paul – two goals making it three goals in last two games
  2. Steven Stamkos – two goals and one assist, he has goals in his last four games
  3. Nikita Kucherov – one goal and two assists. 

What’s Next 

A Saturday matinee in Pittsburgh. The Lightning face the Penguins at 1:00 pm EST

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