MONTREAL — Tyler Johnson and the quick-strike Tampa Bay Lightning moved a victory away from efficiently defending their title, beating the Montreal Canadiens 6-3 on Friday evening in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Lightning caught the Canadiens flat-footed by scoring twice within the opening minutes of every of the primary two durations to take a 3-0 sequence lead. Game 4 is Monday evening in Montreal.
Tampa Bay is in place to affix Pittsburgh (2016 and ’17) in turning into the second crew to win consecutive titles since 1999. The Lightning even have a chance to finish the primary sweep within the last since Detroit beat Washington in 1998.
“The Stanley Cup is enough motivation for us as hockey players,” defenseman Victor Hedman stated in regards to the alternative to turn into the second repeat champions since 1999.
“Obviously, what we did in the bubble last year was very special, and you want to relive that moment, but at the end of the day, we’re not there yet,” he added, referring to the Lightning beating Dallas in six video games final 12 months within the last performed in Edmonton, Alberta. “We’re not satisfied until it’s done.”
Johnson scored twice and Hedman and Nikita Kurcherov every had a purpose and help. Jan Rutta and Blake Coleman, with an empty-netter, additionally scored for the Lightning, who additionally received the Cup in 2004. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 photographs
Vasilevskiy inexplicably whiffed in permitting Nick Suzuki’s shot from the proper circle beat him by means of the legs to chop Tampa Bay’s result in 4-2 with 1:56 left within the second interval. The goalie responded by stopping the primary eight photographs he confronted within the third interval, together with Joel Armia from in shut, earlier than Johnson scored his second purpose to place the Lightning up 5-2 with 4:41 left.
The recreation was the NHL’s first performed within the month of July, a 12 months after taking part in its first video games in August.
Playing the primary Stanley Cup Final since their championship-winning 4-1 victory over the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 on the Montreal Forum on June 9, 1993, did little to spark the Canadiens. Neither did the return of interim coach Dominique Ducharme for the Canadiens, who have been outscored 8-2 in two video games at Tampa Bay.
One of Ducharme’s first strikes was to spend Montreal’s solely timeout after the Lightning scored 1:35 aside to construct a 2-0 lead 3:27 in. Ducharme spent the previous two weeks in necessary self-quarantine in Montreal after testing optimistic for COVID-19.
The Canadiens’ revered protection and Carey Price’s stellar goaltending that carried them to their shocking playoff run have confirmed no match for the Lightning.
“I can definitely play better. it’s just not good enough so far,” stated Price, who gave up 5 objectives on 25 photographs.
He’s not the one one.
Down 2-1 after one interval, Montreal unraveled to open the second interval.
Defenseman Erik Cernak caught the Canadiens sleeping on a line change to arrange Kucherov scoring on a 2-on-0 break 1:40 into the interval. From deep in his personal zone, Cernak despatched a cross supposed for Ondrej Palat at Montreal’s blue line. Palat chased down the puck on the left circle and fed Kucherov, who flipped it within the open proper facet.
Johnson scored 1:53 afterward a 2-on-1 break and after Price obtained his blocker as much as cease Mathieu Joseph’s shot from the left circle. The rebound caromed off Joseph’s skate and on to Johnson who backhanded it into the open proper facet.
The Lightning have scored the opening purpose in all three video games and have but to path within the sequence.
“We have a game plan, right?” Kucherov stated. “Everybody’s buying in and everybody’s doing their job. And when everybody’s doing their job it makes it easier and we all play a full 60 minutes the right way.”
Phillip Danault and Corey Perry additionally scored for a Montreal crew that felt disrespected in making its deepest playoff run since successful its twenty fourth Cup. The Canadiens entered the postseason with the worst document of the NHL’s 16 qualifiers earlier than rallying from a 3-1 first-round sequence deficit towards Toronto, sweeping Winnipeg within the second spherical after which eliminating Vegas in a six-game semifinals sequence.
“We don’t have a choice,” Price stated. “We’ve overcome adversity all season long, and our backs are obviously against the wall, so we’ll have to start bringing our best.”
In NHL playoff historical past, solely 4 groups have rallied to win a sequence after shedding the primary three video games, with Toronto the one one to take action within the last in beating Detroit to win the Cup in 1942. The Los Angeles Kings have been the final crew to beat a 3-0 sequence deficit by beating San Jose in a 2014 first-round sequence.