Savard, McDonagh among top performers for Lightning in Cup Final Game 5

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Who played well in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final? Sometimes it’s easy to tell, sometimes it isn’t. NHL.com graded the players in the 1-0 victory by the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Wednesday. The Lightning won the best-of-7 series 4-1 to win the Cup for the second straight season. Here are the players and trends that stood out the most.

 
Honor roll

Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning) — The goaltender was his reliable self in making 22 saves for his fifth shutout of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s also the second straight year Vasilevskiy got a shutout to clinch the Cup; he made 22 saves in a 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Final on Sept. 28, 2020.

Carey Price (Canadiens) — It was a repeat of Game 4 for the goaltender, except he didn’t come out on the winning end. Price made 29 saves and was especially good during a busy first period, when he made 13. His best may have been a right-pad save, after he lost his stick, on a wrist shot from Lightning forward Ondrej Palat 2:27 into the third period. 

David Savard (Lightning) — Ross Colton had the goal, but what a pass from the defenseman made to the wide-open forward for a 1-0 lead 13:27 into the second period. Savard, acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade that also included the Detroit Red Wings on April 10, had five points, all assists, in 20 playoff games. 

Ryan McDonagh (Lightning) — When the puck came to the defenseman out of a scrum along the boards, he immediately started moving it, finding Savard, who found Colton for the 1-0 lead. McDonagh had seven hits in Game 5 and scored eight points, all assists, in 23 playoff games.

Blake Coleman (Lightning) — The forward was a physical presence again with four hits. He also had four shots on goal, including a great opportunity on a backhand 54 seconds into the first period that was saved by Price.

 
Stock watch

Tampa sports scene (up) — The Lightning won the Cup for the second straight year and made it a great time to be a sports fan in Tampa. The Rays advanced to the 2020 World Series after winning the second American League pennant in their history (2008), and the Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV in February, the second in their history (XXXVII in 2003). 

Ross Colton (up) — It was a nice playoff run for the Lightning rookie forward, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 5. Colton had four goals in the playoffs, tying Canadiens forward Cole Caufield for the most among rookies this postseason. Colton set a Lightning record for most goals by a rookie in a playoff year, held by forward Cedric Paquette, who scored three in the 2015 playoffs.

Canadiens power play (down) — They had three power plays and didn’t do much on any of them. The Lightning’s aggressive kill was part of it, but the Canadiens struggled with passes and puck handling even if the Lightning weren’t disrupting them. The Canadiens had just one shot, a tip-in by Caufield, which came on the third power play. 

Physical game (up) — With everything on the line, it wasn’t surprising to see the aggression turned up a notch in Game 5. The Lightning and Canadiens combined for 104 hits, with the Lightning getting 56.

Steven Stamkos (down) — The Lightning forward went four consecutive games without a point. He had no shots on goal in Game 5 after having one in each of the past three games. Give some credit to the Canadiens, who have been playing him tight all series. 

 
What we learned

Canadiens can’t find a goal

The Canadiens were outshot 13-4 in the first period, but they couldn’t solve Vasilevskiy with their 18 shots over the second and third periods either. With as much work as Price was doing at the other end, he needed help, and didn’t get it.

Lightning depth too much

Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point were held in check in Game 5, but it didn’t matter. Colton got all the offense the Lightning needed, the defense was strong again in allowing little and Vasilevskiy was Vasilevskiy. It’s tough to beat a team that is so strong at every spot.

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