TAMPA -- Dale Weise had been in that situation countless times before, but never with so much on the line.
Weise grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan and couldn't have been happier when general manager Marc Bergevin traded defenseman Raphael Diaz to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 3 to bring him to Montreal.
Bergevin is probably pretty happy he did now as well.
Weise's first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs came at 18:08 of overtime to give the Canadiens a 5-4 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series on Wednesday night.
"Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway," a beaming Weise said. "It feels good to actually do it in real life."
Daniel Briere won a battle behind the Lightning net and got the puck out in front to Weise, who one-timed it under the crossbar and behind goaltender Anders Lindback to give the Canadiens the win and home-ice advantage in the series.
Game 2 is set for Friday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).
"I knew I was wide open and I saw it coming to me and my eyes got real big," Weise said. "I knew I wasn't going to miss from there. I got down on one leg, the old Brett Hull, and I just ripped it."
Steven Stamkos scored twice for the Lightning, who earned home-ice advantage after edging out Montreal for second place in the Atlantic Division. Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov also scored in their playoff debuts.
"[The Canadiens] played well, they played with some good structure and stuff like that, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Ultimately, that's what we did. We did it time and time again. We did it on the winning goal and countless others that they scored tonight. We've had issues with that this year. We've got a young team and we've played through those types of things as the year's gone on."
Lars Elller and Brian Gionta each had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who also got goals from Tomas Plekanec and Thomas Vanek. Along with Weise's overtime winner, it gave Montreal a goal from each of its four forward lines.
"We said before the start of the series that we needed a contribution from everyone," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said, "and that's what we got tonight."
The first playoff game in Tampa since the 2011 Eastern Conference Final began with a pre-game presentation that riled up the crowd, but the Canadiens and Lightning spent the initial period trying to feel each other out with little in the way of typical playoff intensity.
That changed at 8:37 of the second period when Lightning rookie Ondrej Palat entered the Canadiens zone with the puck on a play that was whistled dead for an offside, but Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov finished his hit. Stamkos, the Lightning's captain, immediately went charging after Markov, slamming him up against the boards, and a heated scrum ensued.
It was game on.
"[Stamkos] is a leader. He leads us," Cooper said. "So I'm never surprised at any of those things he does."
The intensity rose and the hitting and pace increased, which made for an entertaining game that the Canadiens controlled territorially all night, outshooting the Lightning 35-16 through regulation.
But the Lightning were opportunistic, scoring four times against Price on their first 14 shots of the game; the Canadiens scored their fourth goal on their 35th shot.
"I thought we were playing really good, defensive hockey throughout the whole game," Price said. "It's tough as a goaltender when teams are capitalizing on scoring chances and they're getting so few. It's a really good feeling when you're able to pull that one out."
Lindback was under considerable pressure starting in place of the injured Ben Bishop and though he allowed five goals, he made 39 saves and spent most of the game with the puck in his zone.
"He made all the saves he had to make, and you can't leave some of these guys open the way we did or give them the chances the way we did," Cooper said. "You give them enough chances eventually they'll score, and that's what they did."
The Lightning jumped out to a lead that lasted 19 seconds midway through the first period. Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas was a central figure in each goal.
Gudas entered the Montreal zone and let go of a shot from inside the blue line that missed the net high and hit the dasher on the boards behind the net. The puck bounced high in the air, creating some confusion in Montreal's defensive coverage, and Cedric Paquette finally corralled it and got it to J.T. Brown at the faceoff circle. He found Kucherov alone in front and his shot beat Price between the legs at 10:09.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Plekanec entered the Tampa Bay zone with speed and faked a shot that caused Gudas to fall, allowing Plekanec to go wide and beat Lindback with a sharp-angle wrist shot at 10:28 to tie the game.
The Lightning took the lead at 13:24 on Stamkos' first goal of the game when he went around Brandon Prust in the neutral zone and beat Price to make it 2-1.
Plekanec nearly tied it again on the next shift when he was sent in alone on Lindback, but his shot hit the goal post. Gionta got the tying goal three minutes later when Eller sent him on a breakaway shorthanded and he scored on his own rebound at 16:39 of the second.
The Canadiens took their first lead of the game at 5:10 of the third when Eller weaved his way into the slot and squeezed a shot through Lindback, but Killorn scored on a turnaround slap shot at 7:11 to make it 3-3.
It was Tampa Bay's first shot of the third period.
Vanek put Montreal back up 4-3 on a play he started with a cross-ice pass to David Desharnais at the Tampa Bay blue line before driving to the net to accept a return pass and tipping it past Lindback at 11:30.
That lead also lasted less than two minutes. Killorn came down on a 2-on-1 break, waited for Markov to slide and put a pass around him right to Stamkos, who tapped it into an open net at 13:27 to tie it.
|Nikita Kucherov (1) ASST: J.T. Brown (1), Cedric Paquette (1)|
1 - 0 TBL
|Tomas Plekanec (1) ASST: Alexei Emelin (1), Brendan Gallagher (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Steven Stamkos (1) ASST: Michael Kostka (1)|
2 - 1 TBL
|SHG - Brian Gionta (1) ASST: Lars Eller (1), Mike Weaver (1)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Lars Eller (1) ASST: Brian Gionta (1)|
3 - 2 MTL
|Alex Killorn (1) ASST: Tyler Johnson (1)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Thomas Vanek (1) ASST: David Desharnais (1), Alexei Emelin (2)|
4 - 3 MTL
|Steven Stamkos (2) ASST: Alex Killorn (1)|
4 - 4 Tie
|1st OT Period|
|Dale Weise (1) ASST: Daniel Briere (1), Josh Gorges (1)|
5 - 4 MTL
|Richard Panik Tripping against Mike Weaver|
|Cedric Paquette Cross checking against Daniel Briere|
|Daniel Briere Holding the stick against Cedric Paquette|
|P.K. Subban Slashing against Nikita Kucherov|
|Alexei Emelin Slashing against Nate Thompson|
|Alex Killorn Hi-sticking against Max Pacioretty|
|1st OT Period|