By Dory LeBlanc
After a hard-fought, high-energy battle Wednesday night that resulted in a 4-3 Canadiens overtime victory to open the best-of-seven series, Friday night at the Forum was lacking the same energy as Game 1, but in the end, found the same results - a win for Montreal.
After a scoreless first period, which Tampa Bay ended with an 11-10 shots lead, Montreal took advantage of a hooking call on Richard Panik 2:28 into the middle frame when David Desharnais quickly redirected a PK Subban shot that went over Anders Lindback's head into the corner of the net.
Eight minutes later, the Habs would extend their lead to a pair after Rene Bourque skated behind Lightning defenseman Sami Salo and shot a wrister over the outstretched Lindback to make it 2-0 Canadiens.
The third period got off to a quiet start both on the ice and in the stands, but the Canadiens started to take control of the game - keeping the puck out of their defensive zone for long stretches and forcing the Lightning back on their heels.
With 8:14 left in regulation, Montreal's Brendan Gallagher put the tilt essentially out of reach for the Bolts after firing a shot from the left circle that went sailing past Lindback to make it 3-0. After the goal, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper opted to pull Lindback in favor of Tampa Bay's 2013 fifth-round draft pick Kristers Gudlevskis.
One the ice less than two minutes, Gudlevskis allowed Bourque to score his second goal of the night and put the Habs at a 4-0 advantage with just over five minutes to go.
Cooper, once again, motioned to pull the goalie - but in this instance, the Lightning were on their second power play of the period (fifth of the game) with three minutes to play in regulation. With a two-man advantage, Teddy Purcell saved the shutout with a wrister that found its way past Carey Price, who stopped 25-of-26 shots on the night.
The Lightning could not net any more goals and fell to the Canadiens 4-1. Montreal now has a two-game lead in the opening round playoff series and will head home to the Bell Centre - where they could finish off the Bolts and not make a return to Tampa this postseason.
First Period -
Second Period -
1. MTL - PP - Desharnais (Subban, Pacioretty) 2:28
2. MTL - Bourque (Vanek, Subban) 10:35
Third Period -
1. MTL - Gallagher (None) 11:46
2. MTL - Bourque (Eller) 14:39
3. TB - PP - Purcell (Hedman, Filppula) 18:01
Shots On Goal:
MTL - 26
TB - 27
MTL - (1) Bench - Too-Many-Men; (2) Prust - Roughing/Fighting (major), Desharnais - Tripping; (3) Vanek - Roughing, Eller - Hooking
TB - (1) Stamkos - High-Sticking (dbl minor); (2) Panik - Hooking, Gudas Holding/Fighting (maj); (3) Killorn - Holding, Paquette - Roughing/Misconduct
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay will travel to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the third game in the best-of-seven series slated for Sunday, April 20th at 7:00 pm at the Bell Centre. You can catch all of the action on sister station 970 WFLA with Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin giving the call with coverage beginning at 6:30 pm.