In the other Eastern Conference Semifinal series, things have changed quickly. The Canadiens who once trailed the Lightning 3-0 won their second in a row tonight edging the Bolts 2-1 at Bell Centre.
The difference was a P.A. Parenteau goal coming with 4:07 left in regulation. It was a great response to Lightning captain Steven Stamkos’ second tally of the postseason. He tied the game 6:26 prior when he was able to get to a loose puck off an Anton Stralman shot and beat Carey Price with 10:33 remaining.
Prior to Stamkos’ goal, Price had committed highway robbery stoning Valtteri Filppula on the doorstep. He had the Hart and Vezina front runner down but Price got a piece of Filppula’s shot with his glove sending it over the net.
Trailing 1-0 on a Devante Smith-Pelly tally back in the first period, the Lightning took some penalties which helped the Canadiens build momentum. Montreal’s power play didn’t score on any of their three man-advantages but had much better looks with both P.K. Subban and Jeff Petry hitting posts. Tampa netminder Ben Bishop kept his team in it with some key saves.
The Habs were able to hold Tyler Johnson off the score sheet for the first time in the series. That’s been a tough assignment in the playoffs. Johnson’s clutch play burned Montreal with his buzzer beater winning Game 3 that put the Lightning three games up. However, Montreal responded by blowing out Tampa 6-2 for their first win in nine games this season.
This one was tighter. The Lightning were able to finally solve Price thanks to a Stamkos win in the offensive zone. Some good work from Alex Killorn got the puck back to Stralman, who moved around a Canadien and wound up. Price made the initial stop but Stamkos was there for the rebound.
With their season on the line, the Habs took advantage of a Bolts’ turnover. Subban found Parenteau open in the slot and his one-timer beat Bishop high glove. From there, they did a good job defensively including the final minute when Bishop went to the bench for an extra attacker. Tampa wasn’t able to get one last shot with a scrum breaking out which featured childhood buddies Subban and Stamkos getting tangled and Max Pacioretty wrestling with Johnson.
Remarkably, it’s the first time in franchise history that the Canadiens have gotten to Game 6 after trailing a series 3-0. Now, the pressure is squarely on the Lightning who at least get two days off before they return home Tuesday. They better win that one. They don’t want to go back to Montreal for a Game 7.