The Montreal Canadiens find themselves trailing 2-0 in the best of seven series against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the series shifts to Montreal. Montreal played a much better game in Game 2 than they did in Game 1. The Canadiens dictated play for the entire game but only could get one goal past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Heading into Game 3, the Canadiens should not change much in their game when the puck drops. They deserved a better fate in Game 2. However, once again turnovers hurt the Canadiens chances of winning the game and evening tying the series. None bigger than the one coming late in the second period with the game tied at 1-1. In this edition of Chalk Talk, we look at how the Montreal Canadiens can limit costly turnovers moving forward in the series.
We all know the Lightning are the better team in the series. And most people had the Lightning repeating this year thanks to them having a shortened season. However, the Lightning did not play their best game in Game 2, but they found a way to win a game. And that is what good teams do. The Canadiens found out that the hard way on Wednesday night. Good teams like the Lightning when they are not playing their best will capitalize on turnovers to win hockey games.
As we noted earlier, the Canadiens dominated the game setting the tone after killing off two straight penalties. They were outshooting the Lightning and had a good response after trailing 1-0 when Anthony Cirelli opened the scoring. From there the Canadiens just pinned the Lightning in their own zone and were able to tie the game when Nick Suzuki scored on backhand goal on the power play. And with the period winding down, a crucial moment happened to lead to the turning point in the game.
With the game tied at 1-1, and with 8.6 seconds left on the clock, the Canadiens were prepared to head to the locker room tied. The play starts when Ben Chiarot moves the puck over to Shea Weber. From there Weber passes the puck up to Phillip Danault in the neutral zone, where he is met by Blake Coleman. Danault needs to chip the puck deep into the Lightning zone there or let it go by him. Granted the official is in his way, but Danault has to look down for the puck. Just tip there. Instead, Danault tries to send the puck on his backhand down the wall.
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The puck intercepted by Ryan McDonagh of the Lightning. McDonagh gets the puck up to Barclay Goodrow who sends the puck over to Coleman, who is diving just to get his stick on the puck. The puck goes past Price to give the Lightning the lead right before the buzzer of period two. Yet again Coleman comes with another highlight-reel goal. This time in the Stanley Cup Final.
Danault does his best to get back and even gets his stick on the pass, but Coleman’s momentum drives it towards the net. Again a team like the Lightning will make you pay for the minimal amount of mistakes the Canadiens do make. Nick Suzuki’s look on the bench after that goal said it all.
This goal was such a backbreaker as the Canadiens were playing so well dominating the period. They only had one goal to show for it against Vasilevskiy, but they were getting their chances. With the way, Vasilevksiy was playing it was awfully tough for the Canadiens to score another goal on him.
In the third period, the Lightning again capitalized on a Canadiens turnover. This time Joel Edmundson makes an error that leads to an Ondrej Palat that made it 3-1 and sealed the Canadiens fate. Edmundson and Jeff Petry were out on the ice together. Edmundson went behind the net and tries to reverse the puck back to Petry to break out of the zone. Palat intercepted the puck and bounced it off of Price and into the net.
Now if Petry was calling for the reverse shame on him. If Edmundson did it on his own without looking over the options because he felt pressure, that is just a bad read. Edmundson had time to skate and move the puck to Cole Caufield and the puck would have been out of the zone. Now, this is not to say Tampa Bay would not have scored later on in the period to ice the game, but a only needed a goal to tie the game is easier than two against Vasilevskiy and the Lightning.
In the end, the Montreal Canadiens played better, but Tampa Bay capitalized on two costly mistakes to win the game. Montreal needs to be better with the puck if they want this series to go longer.