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Habs prolong series against Bolts thanks to two-goal effort from Anderson

Wayne Masut | The Scrum Sports

The stage was set. With the Tampa Bay Lightning owning a 3-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final over the Montreal Canadiens, the Lightning appeared poised to clinch their second straight Stanley Cup, especially after an impressive effort in a 6-3 win in Game 3. Unfortunately for them, the Canadiens and Josh Anderson had other ideas.

During the 2021 playoffs, Anderson’s goal production has been rare, but spectacular when it has occurred. He scored in the Habs’ first game of the playoffs against Toronto in the opening round, but didn’t find the net again until he notched two goals against Vegas in Game 3 of the semifinals. Since then, Anderson failed to find the back of the net until Monday night against the Lightning with the Habs’ season on the line. His two goals, including the overtime winner, boosted the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Bell Center. Carey Price picked up the win for Montreal between the pipes, stopping 32 of 34 shots, while Andrei Vasilevskiy took the loss after stopping 18 of 21 shots.

Plenty of chances for the Lightning, nothing to show for it.

During the majority of the first 20 minutes, the Lightning played with a sense of purpose, focus, and determination behooving a team trying to clinch a Stanley Cup championship. Just a couple of minutes into the game, Tampa Bay held a 5-0 shot advantage. This was highlighted by a great chance from Nikita Kucherov and a pair from Blake Coleman. As time moved on, the Bolts continued tilting the ice in their favor, creating chances and bottling up Montreal. The Canadiens didn’t record their first shot on goal until the 8:07 mark of the period. A fast-moving period with few whistles continued ticking down, with the Lightning holding an 11-1 shot advantage 15 minutes in.

Unfortunately for the Bolts, hockey can be a strange sport. One where the scoreboard doesn’t reflect the puck possession or shot dominance. With 4:21 to go in the period, Nick Suzuki made a slick backhand feed to a trailing Anderson, who buried the a shot past Vasilevskiy on the Habs’ second shot of the period for a 1-0 Montreal lead. That goal also marked Montreal’s first lead of the series.

The Canadiens recorded a couple more chances until each team took matching minors with 3:27 left, followed by a Joel Edmundson slashing penalty leading to a Lightning power play. Kucherov missed an open net and Brayden Point rang a shot off the post during the man-advantage before the period ended with a scrum leading to matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for Edmundson and Pat Maroon. The Lightning held a 12-5 edge in shots on goal and a 26-10 edge in shot attempts in all situations. At 5-on-5, the shot attempt advantage was 18-8 for Tampa Bay.

Montreal flips the ice in their favor, but Tampa Bay doesn’t waver

The early stages of the second period featured very, very little in terms of shots or scoring chances for both teams a 5-on-5. On the other hand, the physicality of the game began to ramp up during this period. It wasn’t until Point took a high-sticking penalty at the 5:50 mark that Montreal began to make things happen in terms of creating opportunities. Although they didn’t score on the ensuing power play, the Habs created a trio of quality chances, one each for Anderson, Joel Armia, and Brendan Gallagher off a deflection of an Armia shot.

Just under four minutes later, the Lightning went on the power play thanks to a Corey Perry hooking penalty. Unlike the Canadiens prior power play opportunity, the Lightning failed to muster anything of note before the man-advantage came to an end. With just over five-and-a-half minutes to go in the second period, Montreal had completely turned the tide in the shots on goal department. However, Tampa Bay slowly began to turn the tide back in their favor when Armia took a tripping penalty, leading to a Bolts power play. Victor Hedman fired a shot off Price that also hit the post before hitting Point with a second shot that left him in pain. Despite being on the receiving end of Hedman’s shot, he would return to the game.

McDonagh makes magic happen to tie the game up

Tampa Bay finally broke through about a minute after the power play ended thanks to the efforts of Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh made a fantastic play to force a turnover at the Habs’ blue line and keep the puck in their zone. He worked the puck to Coleman, who put a shot on net. McDonagh drove the net and jumped on the rebound before delivering a gorgeous no-look pass to Barclay Goodrow. Goodrow ripped it into an open net to tie the game 1-1 with 2:40 to go in the period.

Trading goals in the third period

Just over four minutes into the third period, Kucherov nearly put the Lightning ahead thanks to a brilliant setup from Point. Unfortunately for the Bolts, Price came up with a huge stop that kept the game knotted up 1-1.

The physical tone of the game began to pick up even more during a scrum at the 7:42 mark when six players went to the penalty box for roughing, three from each side. Goodrow, Coleman, and Yanni Gourde for Tampa Bay, along with Anderson, Ben Chiarot, and Jeff Petry from Montreal. Over the next several minutes, all six players were stuck in the box due to the matching minors and due to the fact there were no stoppages in play. Only 1:06 after the original penalties, Alexander Romanov put the Habs ahead 2-1 when his shot from the point beat Vasilevskiy through a screen set by Artturi Lehkonen. Romanov’s goal was his first of the playoffs as he was making his series debut in this game.

At the 13:48 mark, exactly five minutes after Romanov put the Canadiens ahead, Maroon came to the Lightning’s rescue to tie the game again. After Tyler Toffoli failed to get the puck in deep into the Lightning’s zone, Tampa Bay countered in transition the other way. Mathieu Joseph led a 2-on-1 before feeding Maroon for the goal with a gorgeous pass to knot it up 2-2.

Kucherov nearly gave the Lightning the lead a couple of minutes later, but his redirection of a McDonagh pass clanked off the post.

A late power play carries over into overtime

With 1:01 to go in regulation, Shea Weber tried lifting Ondrej Palat’s stick soon after a faceoff, but his stick clipped Palat in the face, drawing blood and leading to a four-minute Lightning power play. Tampa Bay created a few solid looks during the regulation portion of the power play, but came up empty as time ran out, leading to overtime hockey for the first time in this series. The Lightning carried over 2:59 of power play time going into sudden death.

As the overtime began, the Bolts had some issues getting things together on the power play, but eventually settled down, as Palat created a solid chance for himself. Shortly after that, Montreal nearly capitalized with a tremendous shorthanded opportunity. Philip Danault fed Suzuki off a rush, but Vasilevskiy flashed his right pad and made a brilliant save.

Anderson’s second of the night gives the Habs the win

Soon after, Price came up with a huge stop of his own on Point just before the power play ended. Not long after Weber came out of the box, the Canadiens put a bow on this one thanks to Anderson’s overtime heroics. Anderson got around Jan Rutta on a rush, but Rutta cut off the angle and forced him towards the goal line. Anderson put it on net trying to find Cole Caufield in front. Caufield chipped at it, but Gourde got his stick on it. As the puck continued to roll, Anderson darted back from behind the goal line, dove for the puck, and beat Rutta to it, putting a shot on net that beat Vasilevskiy as he was falling to the ice.

Just like that, the game was over, and the Canadiens lived on to extend the series.

Game 5 will be on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena on NBC. Puck drops just after 8 pm.

Our Three Stars of the Game

1st Star: Josh Anderson – Two goals, including the game-winner in overtime.

2nd Star: Carey Price – Stopped 32 shots.

3rd Star: Alexander Romanov – Scored his first goal of the playoffs.

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