The Lightning and Canadiens played the second game of their Eastern Conference Final series on Sunday night, and in Game 5, Montreal held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. The Lightning won the period 4-2, and tied the game with just over six minutes to play. Lightning left-winger Jonathan Drouin scored the overtime game-winning goal, and the Lightning won the game in overtime, and the series.
PITTSBURGH – Well, the time is almost here. So, what can the fans expect?
The Stanley Cup will be back in the building Wednesday night. Will the Tampa Bay Lightning be able to take the game to their own hands tonight, or will this series go back to Montreal?
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Game 5: Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning|8pm. (Lightning leading 3-1)
Tampa Bay had a chance to become the first team in 23 years to win the Stanley Cup Final. But the Lightning’s power play stalled at the worst possible time: 0-for-6, including a missed opportunity four minutes into the extension and the first few minutes of the stretch.
Now the Lightning, as Tampa Mayor Jane Castor sadly suggested, have a chance to win at home – and celebrate with friends and family on the ice, something they couldn’t do last year and couldn’t do at the Bell Center. The Lightning have not lost a game in a row in the last two seasons and are 14-0 after losing. If they do it again, they’ll pick up what’s in those boxes later that night:
On the way back to Florida. Game 5, here we come. #stanleycupfinal@CanadiansMTL @TBLightning @nhl @HockeyHallFame pic.twitter.com/bG3BjTaM7C
– Philip Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) July 6, 2021
Meanwhile, Habs interim coach Dominique Ducharme made some bold changes to the lineup for Game 4, and they all seem to have worked. Hockey players are notoriously superstitious, and especially given the results, it’s not surprising that Ducharme suggested using the same lineup for Game 5. That means Alexander Romanov, Brett Kulak and Jake Evans will likely remain in the lineup, while Jon Merrill, Erik Gustafsson and Jesperi Kotkaniemi will likely be out.
Oh, and as if the 2021 season wasn’t weird enough already, Game 5 will take place while Tampa is being hit by Tropical Storm Elsa. The Canadians landed in Tampa on Tuesday despite difficult conditions. This is no longer a surprise, Mr. Ducharme said. Everything that happens now and over time, we take in, look at and talk about: I guess that’s our fate. It was crazy, but we’re a crazy bunch here.
Three players to keep an eye on
Cary Price, G, Montreal Canadiens
Over the years, Price’s peers have called him the best goalie in the league. He finally reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career, but he didn’t do well early in the series, scoring 14 goals in three games and having a save percentage of .833 on shots from close range. In Game 4, Price played very hard, turning away 32 shots. Which version of Price will appear in the fifth game?
Pat Maroon, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning.
The fourth player scored a key goal in Game 4 to make it 2-2 and is now looking to complete his personal three-goal victory. (He also won with his home club, the St. Louis Blues, in 2019 and with the Lightning last year). No NHL player has won three consecutive Cups since 1983, when 15 Islanders won their fourth consecutive Cup. No player has won three consecutive cups with two different teams since 1964.
Alexander Romanov, D, Montreal Canadiens
The 21-year-old came into the starting lineup for Game 4 after playing in just two playoff games – once in the second-round series against Winnipeg and once against Vegas in the Stanley Cup semifinals. After a big goal in Game 4, you wonder why he wasn’t in the lineup earlier. Romanov is mistake-prone, and the coaching staff is still a little cautious about the fact that he played just 10:19 minutes at 5-on-5 in the fourth.
Conn Smythe Watch
If Tampa Bay wins, the race looks to come down to two players: Andrei Vasilevsky and Nikita Kucherov. Braden Point might be someone to keep an eye on – the frontline center scored 20 points in the first three rounds, but was quiet in the final round. Poynt has just three points (all assists), all scored in the first game. He also took two penalty kicks in Game 4.
On Tuesday, coach John Cooper spoke out in favor of one of his players: Defender Ryan McDonagh. He’s one of those guys who, if we win the Stanley Cup, won’t vote for the Conn Smythe like the others, but he certainly deserves it, Cooper said. McDonagh scored seven points, all assists, and led all postseason players with a plus-14 rating. In Game 4, McDonagh set up Barclay Goodrow’s goal at the end of the second period with an excellent move:
It’s a great play by McDonagh…. Some want to call it a turnover, but who expects McDonagh to step up in this match? …. And then have the ability to go deep, pick up Petry and return the pass to Goodrow https://t.co/hZ7089 e.
– Lightning Insider (@Erik_Erlendsson) 6. July 2021
But Cooper also defended the cause of several of his other players.
If we can win, I think it’s a collective group you get here. I don’t think one person stands out, Cooper said. Last year it could have been Vazi, Pointer, Kuch, [Victor] Hedman, a lot of guys. And this year I feel the same way. Everyone did their part. Wazee was excellent. You can go through all the guys in our D-body who have had an impact on us. Cough, for the way he didn’t play during the regular season and for the way he played during the playoffs. Poynter with his notation. Then look at one of [Yanni] Gourde’s lines. The guys came up and had their moments; you can’t win without that.
Quote of the day
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor took a risk Tuesday when she said she would rather see the Lightning take it easy in Game 4 and win Game 5 in front of their home crowd. Castor said she never regretted her loss.
Beaver said: Lesson learned: Don’t try to be funny when you’re the mayor – or about sports.
Amazing statistics of the day
Jaromir Jagr to Kevin Bacon: Hold my beer:
At least one teammate of Jaromir Jagr has been in every #StanleyCup final since 1980.
(: IG/nhleurope) pic.twitter.com/OyqzzMh8m8
– NHL (@NHL) July 5, 2021
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