3 Keys: Canadiens at Lightning, Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final


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.”

Video: Canadiens reflect on their hard-fought journey to SCF

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 ToffoliPhillip DanaultBrendan Gallagher

Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJosh Anderson

Paul ByronJake EvansArtturi Lehkonen

Joel ArmiaEric StaalCorey Perry

Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber

Joel EdmundsonJeff Petry

Alexander RomanovBrett Kulak

Carey Price

Jake Allen

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

Injured: None


Lightning projected lineup

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov

Tyler JohnsonAnthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos

Barclay GoodrowYanni Gourde — Blake Coleman

Pat MaroonRoss ColtonMathieu Joseph

Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak

Mikhail SergachevDavid Savard

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Luke Schenn, Alex-Barre Boulet, Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, Gemel Smith, Mitchell Stephens, Daniel Walcott, Fredrik Claesson, Cal Foote, Ben Thomas, Christopher Gibson, Spencer Martin

Injured: Alex Killorn (undisclosed)


Status report

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.

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