If Wednesday night’s Game 2 wasn’t a must-win for the Canadiens, Friday’s Game 3 certainly is.
While Montreal outplayed Tampa Bay in the second game of the best-of-seven series, it still lost 3-1 (if you haven’t seen the Blake Coleman goal, what are you waiting for?) and trails 2-0. So what is the team to do now?
“We just have to keep going. I think we had 40 shots or whatever it was last game. Keep getting there, get in (Andrei Vasilevskiy’s) face,” Tyler Toffoli said before adding: “I don’t know, score.”
Scoring has been at a premium for the Canadiens in this series. The team has mustered just two goals — a Jeff Petry shot that ping-ponged off two Lightning players and a Nick Suzuki power-play goal — against Vasilevskiy. But they have gotten shots, a combined 62 including a 43-shot barrage in Game 2.
One thing that could give the team a shot in the arm is the return of head coach Dominique Ducharme, who missed Games 3-6 against the Golden Knights and the first two of the Stanley Cup Final following a positive COVID test in June. While he’s happy to be back, he doesn’t expect things need to be tweaked.
“No, I don’t think it’s time to make big changes,” he said Friday. “You look at the last game and there’s not a whole lot we would change except for maybe five or six plays in the game. So we have to make sure to take what we did and be just a little bit better. . . . We knew we didn’t play a good game in Game 1, we knew we had a lot of room for improvement, but now we played the type of game we want to play and we know we can be a little bit better, and that will make the difference.”
Ducharme is back for the Canadiens but the Lightning will once again be without Alex Killorn. The second-line winger blocked a Petry shot in Game 1 and hasn’t played since one shift in the third period. It’s a big loss as he not only is a key forward but also is on the first power-play unit and works the penalty kill.
Another component that will be missing is a packed arena. The Canadiens petitioned to have the capacity increased at Bell Centre but were denied. There will be just 3,500 fans inside the building with thousands expected outside.
“Disappointing. Very disappointing,” said Ducharme. “As much as it could have been a way to reward those who have gotten their two doses, it could have been an incentive to get even more people vaccinated. It could have been a way to reward our fans, the people who have gone through 14 or 15 months of isolation, to have the chance to participate in an event like this. It’s special. Unfortunately, we’ll have 3,500 inside and probably 25,000 outside who are going to be shoulder to shoulder. It’s hard to see the logic.”
Sporting News has all the action as the Canadiens try to get back in the series lead against the Lightning (all times Eastern).
Canadiens vs. Lightning live score, highlights from Game 3
9:02 p.m. — Coleman is shown back on the bench.
9:01 p.m. — Mikhail Sergachev takes a penalty.
8:49 p.m — GOAL. Phillip Danault scores! The top defensive forward finally gets his first goal of the postseason as he goes post and in. Tampa Bay leads 2-1.
8:39 p.m. — Cole Caufield hits the post.
8:34 p.m. — Coleman down on the ice for a long, skates off on his own but goes to the locker room.
8:32 p.m. — Blake Coleman misses the check on Joel Edmundson and goes flying into the boards and is down on the ice. It looks like he hits his head on the boards.
8:31 p.m. — PP GOAL. Victor Hedman from the middle of the ice fires the slapshot that Carey Price gets a piece of, but not enough. Tampa Bay leads 2-0.
8:30 p.m. — Eric Staal sends the puck over the glass.
8:28 p.m. — GOAL. Jan Rutta throws the puck on net and the seeing-eye shot sneaks in top shelf in the corner. Tampa Bay leads 1-0.
8:25 p.m. — First whistle and first pleasantries of the game.
8:23 p.m. — Puck has been dropped. Game on.
8:20 p.m. — Introductions.
Massive ovation for Dominique Ducharme from the 3500 fans inside the Bell Centre in his first game back following the positive COVID-19 test.
— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) July 3, 2021
Sergachev with the smirk after hearing the Bell Centre crowd boo him. Playing the heel well.
— David Alter (@dalter) July 3, 2021
7:54 p.m. — Maroon trying to stir up some action.
Pat Maroon spent just about the entire second half of warmup skating up and down the red line, just looking for some good conversation. No takers.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) July 2, 2021
7:26 p.m. — The Crowd is read in Montreal.
Stanley Cup 2021: Latest news
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