Tampa Bay Lightning (+115) at Montreal Canadiens (-125, 5 o/u)
Game 1 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens ended in controversial fashion. Nikita Kucherov was able to give the Lightning a 2-1 early in the second overtime period after the linesmen missed a close offside call. Tonight, the Habs will hope karma is on their side in Game 2 as they try to level the best-of-seven series at one game apiece (6:00 p.m. Eastern at the Bell Centre).
The Game 1 loss was the sixth straight for Montreal against Tampa Bay, which won all five meetings in the regular season series, as well. Tampa was able to take Game 1 despite getting outshot 44-35, including 13-8 in the first overtime.
The strong play of goalie Ben Bishop kept the Canadiens off the board for most of the game. The 6’7″ netminder let in a softy to Max Pacioretty midway through the third – whiffing on a long-distance wrist shot – but he showed great mental toughness in the extra frames.
“It didn’t bother me that much … I felt I was playing pretty well. You’d like to have it back. I played baseball for a lot of years, so it’s kind of disappointing,” Bishop told NHL.com after the game.
The Pacioretty goal game just five minutes after Tyler Johnson opened the scoring early in the third period. The goal was Johnson’s team and league-leading seventh of the playoffs.
For Montreal head coach Michel Therrien, the loss stings but isn’t without its silver lining.
“We’re disappointed and frustrated because of the situation, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Therrien to the league’s official website. “But what I look at more is the way we played, against the Lightning it was definitely our best game. We were the team that put on the pressure, we followed our game plan practically to the letter. There’s a lot of positive to take out of this game.”
Despite Therrien’s optimism, the reality is that the Habs are going to struggle to score while Bishop is on his game. Throw in a healthy dose of Carey Price at the other end of the rink and the fact that both powerplays are struggling (hovering around 5%) and the under (5) looks like the play.
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)