The Tampa Bay Lightning have their second opportunity to win the Stanley Cup for a second straight season when they play the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.
The Canadiens avoided being swept in the best-of-7 series with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 in Montreal on Monday.
“It’s no different from any other loss we’ve encountered in the playoffs, we want to bounce back and have a strong performance,” Lightning forward Blake Coleman said. “It’s just business as usual this morning and we’re excited to play at home tonight.”
The Lightning are 6-0 in games following a loss in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have not lost two postseason games in a row since they were swept in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round (14-0).
“We don’t sit here and say we’ve got to keep the streak alive or this is all good, we don’t lose after a loss; that is a recipe for disaster,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I just like the way our guys turn the page, dig their heels in and play after a loss knowing they have better in them.”
The Canadiens are 4-0 when facing elimination in the playoffs. They won Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round after trailing 3-1 in the series.
“We’re playing for the Stanley Cup here,” Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot said. “There’s nothing bigger than this. If you have a problem getting up for the game you’re probably in the wrong business.”
Three teams in NHL history have rallied from 3-0 down to force Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Final, the last being the New Jersey Devils against the Los Angeles Kings in 2012. The others are the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1945 Detroit Red Wings.
“We’re facing a challenge, but there’s a couple ways to be looking at it,” Canadiens coach Dominque Ducharme said. “You can be down on yourself or you can look at a challenge as an opportunity to do something special. We’re just looking at tonight and we’re ready, excited to play that game. You have to embrace those moments and embrace those challenges.”
Here are 3 keys for Game 5:
1. The first goal really matters
The team that has scored the first goal has won all four games in the series.
In the playoffs, the Canadiens are 12-2 when they score first and 1-6 when they don’t. The Lightning are 15-2 when scoring first and 0-5 giving up the first goal of the game.
So, yeah, the first goal really does matter.
2. Tampa Bay’s top players
The Lightning had goals from their third and fourth lines in Game 4. The players in their top six forward group were shut out and their power play, which features four top-six forwards and defenseman Victor Hedman, went 0-for-5.
Brayden Point, the center on the first line, and Steven Stamkos, the right wing on the second line, have no points since Game 1, when Point had three assists and Stamkos scored a goal. Hedman’s lone point in the series was an assist in Game 3.
“That’s how it went, you try to do your best every game and some nights it goes your way and some nights it doesn’t,” Point said. “That’s why we have a whole team in there. The boys got us to overtime and we couldn’t close it out on the power play. But we just take this one game at a time and try to be your best every night.”
3. Montreal’s puck management
Turnovers have been an issue for the Canadiens the entire series and the Lightning keep scoring goals off them.
The last time they played here, Game 2, the Canadiens played arguably their best game of the series, outshooting the Lightning 43-23, but Tampa Bay scored two goals directly off turnovers and won 3-1.
Tampa Bay’s two goals in Game 4 came directly off Montreal turnovers.
“You play against good players, if you fuel them with giving them pucks and making it easy on them, they’re going to find solutions,” Ducharme said. “But that’s something that we know. We know how to do it. It’s not a matter of putting us on our heels at all, it’s just recognizing situations and knowing our options and what we want to do. Guys know. We know how to do it. Our execution was better last game and it’s going to be better tonight again.”
Canadiens projected lineup
Tyler Toffoli — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Josh Anderson
Paul Byron — Jake Evans — Artturi Lehkonen
Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov — Brett Kulak
Scratched: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cale Fleury, Jon Merrill, Lukas Vejdemo, Laurent Dauphin, Jesse Ylonen, Alex Belzile, Xavier Ouellet, Otto Leskinen, Michael Frolik, Erik Gustafsson, Tomas Tatar, Cayden Primeau, Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven
Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson — Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow — Yanni Gourde — Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon — Ross Colton — Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — David Savard
Injured: Alex Killorn (undisclosed)
Cooper said Killorn was doubtful, so the forward is likely to miss his fourth straight game with an injury related to blocking a shot with his left leg in the second period of Game 1. … Each team is expected to use the same lineup from Game 4.