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NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-6-15 Canadiens at Lightning

And Tyler Johnson drove the get away car...

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game Three

MTL-1
TB-2

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 3-0

Ben Bishop allowed just 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. As has been the case throughout the series, he's been the best player on the ice. He's outdueling the best goaltender on the planet by continually beating Price in these tight games, carrying over from some of the regular season matchups, and he's the only reason the Lightning are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.

First Period
12:00 TB Killorn (3), (Stamkos)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
10:03 MTL Gallagher (2), (Gilbert, Pateryn)
19:58 TB Johnson (8), (Hedman, Palat)

Tyler Johnson and Ben Bishop were the game's first and second stars.

For as dramatic and amazing a finish as that game had, I can't help but be disappointed with the effort we saw from the Lightning tonight. Having staked themselves to a 2-0 series lead in Montreal, they showed the proper urgency in the First Period to build a 1-0 lead on a beautiful Stamkos/Killorn give and go. That was fantastic.

The ensuing 39 minutes and 58.9 seconds of hockey, for the most part, was steaming hot garbage.

The Lightning played like a Junior A team in front of Bishop, with a complete lack of aggression and urgency dotted with the periodic idiotic turnover. They'd be lucky to win a dog show with the epic sandbaggery that we saw tonight, and only Bishop gave them a chance to win. Even after Gallagher poked home the equalizer, the Lightning's response was fairly awful, right up until the last 2 shifts of the game, when it appeared Cooper and the coaching staff must've opened up some particularly noxious smelling salts and waved them under the noses of the the team's top two lines. Stamkos' line set the tone with a great forechecking shift to wear down the Habs, and then fresh off the bench the Johnson line mustered a quick rush that ended with a sharp centering pass from Hedman getting tapped home with 1.1 seconds left to play. What a theft. I'm almost embarrassed to call it a win.

If you asked me about Matt Carle's execution on defense tonight, I'd tell you I was all for it.

Now the Lightning get to go for the series sweep against a stunned Canadiens team tomorrow night. Between Montreal's dysfunctional PP, their lack of scoring talent, and Bishop's excellence, Tampa Bay has a good chance of advancing in the next 22 hours. What happens afterwards is difficult to feel positive about, though. We haven't seen the Lightning play their best game yet. Not even close. We've seen 20 good minutes of hockey here and there, but nothing near the kind of 60 minute effort it will take to win the East against Washington or the Rangers. Were I Cooper, I'd smack the first player who tried to celebrate about that dumpster fire that was passed off as an effort tonight and challenge this team to close out this series the right way against Montreal in Game Four. It's time to stop relying on Bishop, a little luck, and a lot of hope to back into winning hockey games and play an assertive, dominant 60 minute hockey game that tells the world this team is a serious championship contender and not just the best of a weak gaggle of Atlantic Division pretenders.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 5-5-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Finals

QMJHL-4 Quebec Remparts 7 @ QMJHL-1 Rimouski Oceanic 4
Quebec leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Adam Erne, QUE: 1-1-2, +3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 0 Hits, *Third Star*
Playoff totals: 16 GP, 16-6-22, +14, 6 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 41-45-86, +21, 102 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM

Quebec stole home ice advantage from the Oceanic by winning Game 1 of the QMJHL Finals, 7-4. It was a 5-4 game with just over five minutes remaining in regulation before Quebec scored an insurance goal and later an empty-netter. Adam Erne scored again, giving him 16 goals in 16 playoff games. He’s scored in nine of his past 11 games. The Remparts have won 10 straight games, dating back to Game 7 of the first round. Game 2 of the Finals is Friday.

Lightning complete Black Aces roster

The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled forwards Yanni Gourde, Joel Vermin, Henri Ikonen and Tanner Richard, along with defensemen Dylan Blujus, Jake Dotchin, Luke Witkowski, Slater Koekkoek and Anthony DeAngelo, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. These prospects will join Kristers Gudlevskis, Mike Angelidis, and Jonathan Marchessault as call-ups from the Crunch after Syracuse was eliminated in three AHL playoff games.

The Black Aces are a practice squad of sorts which will gain valuable experience being around the Lightning during its playoff run. Notable omissions include Carter Ashton (pending RFA), Cody Kunyk (RFA) and JP Cote (UFA). Recently signed prospects Adam Wilcox and Matt Peca do not have active NHL contracts so they cannot be officially recalled.

DeAngelo jumps right to the Lightning practice unit after his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds were eliminated Saturday night. According to Lightning Assistant GM Julien BriseBois - via Syracuse.com's Lindsay Kramer - DeAngelo's NHL contract is active this year so he is able to join the club.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 27

This week's “Tim Taylor Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· The No. 27
· The Lightning can be better
· There’s a more dangerous lineup available
· Prospect playoff updates
· Interview with Adam Wilcox
· #BPMailbag (Which prospects project to be better than their NHL counterparts? … Carle to Edmonton? … Set plays vs spontaneous plays)

NHL Playoff Game Night: 5-3-15 Lightning at Canadiens

When the levees broke...

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game Two

TB-6
MTL-2

Tampa Bay Leads the Series 2-0

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. As in Game One, he held the Lightning in the game early in the First Period long enough for them to gain their equilibrium and eventually trounce the Habs.

First Period
7:20 MTL Petry (1), (Mitchell, Prust)
19:36 TB Filppula (2), (Hedman, Killorn)(PP)

Second Period
8:06 TB Stamkos (1), (Garrison, Coburn)
12:29 TB Kucherov (2), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)
19:46 TB Hedman (1), (Killorn, Filppula)(PP)

Third Period
6:37 TB Kucherov (3), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)
11:06 MTL Gilbert (2), (Emelin, Smith-Pelly)
16:05 TB Brown (1), (Filppula, Boyle)

Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Killorn were the game's three stars.

That, folks, was one of the most satisfying playoff victories in Lightning history. The team, again, struggled to get any momentum to start the First Period with a combination of early penalties, poor passing, and faceoff impotence costing them possession. Again, though, they weathered that storm fairly well, only falling down 1-0, before Filppula's semi-soft power play goal toward the end of the frame. Montreal absolutely outplayed Tampa Bay in the First Period, and just like in Game One they absolutely blew their opportunity to land a knockout punch early. What happened thereafter was the stuff of stories and legends.

You see, the Lightning had already removed one item from their to-do list on Filppula's PP goal, but they proceeded to get everything knocked off from there. Stamkos scored on a very strong breakaway move on a nice long pass from Garrison to get that monkey off his back. Kucherov got a pair of PP goals to underline that the floodgates have indeed opened for him after Game One. His 2 goals, along with a Hedman PP tally, formed a chain of 4 goals on 4 consecutive PP shots for the Lightning as the absolutely embarrassed Carey Price, the NHL's presumptive MVP. To rub salt in the wound, the Lightning got the equivalent of a human victory cigar in the form of J.T. Brown scoring a tip in goal.

Teams that take a 2-0 lead on the road to start a series have an 80% chance of moving on, historically. I like those odds. I like the idea of avenging what happened last season even more. The Lightning have a chance to show the same cold blooded lack of mercy Montreal showed them last year in Game Three when the scene turned north after Tampa Bay fell behind 0-2 on the road. A quick goal by the Tampa Bay Lightning early in Game Three may lead to Montreal's resolve evaporating altogether. Time to step on their throats, Tampa Bay Lightning. Remember, the playoffs are a war of attrition. Advance as quickly as you can. Stay as healthy as you can. Conserve as much energy as you can. Let the other two teams kill each other in a long battle in the other Semifinal. Lay in wait for the Eastern Conference Finals. The opportunity for that scenario to play out is sitting there for the taking for the Lightning, starting with a strong opening 10 minutes at home in Game Three.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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