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Lightning vs Canadiens

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Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Five reasons why the Canadiens advanced

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 3:30 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning appeared to be two evenly matched teams entering their Eastern Conference First Round series.

They finished one point apart in the standings and three of their four regular-season games were decided after regulation time. The fourth was decided in the third period.

A seven-game series was expected, but the Canadiens completed a four-game sweep with a last-minute 4-3 win at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Health is a big reason for the dramatic change from the tight season series. The Canadiens, for the most part, had it and the Lightning didn't, losing one of their most important players, goaltender Ben Bishop, to a dislocated elbow before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But injuries were far from the only factor working in favor of the Canadiens. Here are five more:

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Five reasons why the Lightning were eliminated

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 2:16 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame so much this season to author a special story of perseverance and promise.

Goaltender Ben Bishop resurrected his career, turning in a regular season worthy of Vezina Trophy consideration. Leading scorer Steven Stamkos went down for a majority of the season after sustaining a broken leg in November. Yet the Lightning refused to fold and finished second in the Atlantic Division, holding off a challenge from the Montreal Canadiens at the end of the regular season.

However, the Lightning could not find the same level of perseverance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did not overcome the hardships placed in their path during an Eastern Conference First Round series against the Canadiens and were eliminated in a stunning four-game sweep, the first in the history of the franchise.

Here are the five biggest reasons Tampa Bay's season came to an earlier-than-expected end:

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Canadiens' Pacioretty writes own story with winner

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:09 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty would have remembered his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs no matter how it was scored.

The way he did it will make that memory much nicer.

Pacioretty scored a power-play goal with 42.6 seconds to play to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win Tuesday. It gave the Canadiens a sweep of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After failing to score in the first three games of the series following a career-best 39-goal regular season, it was not a bad way for Pacioretty to get on the board.

"I didn't see the penalty, but as soon as I heard it, I knew this was my chance and I had to step up," Pacioretty said. "I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened."


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Stamkos optimistic about Lightning's future

Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 12:49 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

James Murphy - NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- A difficult season for Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos came to a disappointing end Tuesday night.

Stamkos could only watch in frustration as Max Pacioretty's power-play goal with 42.6 seconds left in regulation gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory, completing a four-game sweep of the Lightning and sending the Canadiens into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The loss capped a trying season for Stamkos, who missed 45 games with a broken leg and saw longtime linemate Martin St. Louis dealt to the New York Rangers at the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5, one day before his return. Stamkos inherited the captain's "C" when St. Louis was traded and helped fuel a late-season run that saw the rookie-filled Lightning finish with 101 points to earn second place in the Atlantic Division.

But the loss of star goaltender Ben Bishop to a dislocated elbow in the final week of the season, combined with the Lightning's inexperience, caught up to the Lightning in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Canadiens.


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McCarthy: Challenges awaiting Canadiens, Lightning

Monday, 04.21.2014 / 5:55 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens, NHL.com has enlisted the help of longtime NHL assistant/associate coach Kevin McCarthy to break down the action. McCarthy will be checking in throughout the series.

McCarthy played in more than 500 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, then spent a decade as an assistant and associate coach with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was a member of the staff that led the franchise to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. He joined the Flyers as an assistant during the 2009-10 season and stayed in Philadelphia until October 2013.

Kevin McCarthy has been in the position that both the Canadiens and the Lightning find themselves in, and there are unique mental challenges facing each.

For the Canadiens, the natural tendency for a team that's ahead 3-0 in a series is to realize there is room for error, even if you do everything in your power to convince yourself otherwise.

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Canadiens' patience with Eller, Bourque paying off

Monday, 04.21.2014 / 5:33 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- There were times this season when Lars Eller and Rene Bourque might have wondered whether they would even be in the Montreal Canadiens lineup when the Stanley Cup Playoffs began.

Those times were not so long ago.

But now, at the most important time of year, Eller and Bourque are filling important roles for the Canadiens, playing on a line with captain Brian Gionta and providing the depth up front that has allowed Montreal to build a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Canadiens will go for a series sweep in Game 4 on Tuesday at Bell Centre (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, CBC, RDS, FS-F) with Eller tied for the team lead with four points and Bourque leading the team with three goals.

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Cooper confident Lightning can extend series

Monday, 04.21.2014 / 4:05 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

James Murphy - NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- As Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos fielded questions from a large media scrum outside the Lightning dressing room after practice at Bell Centre on Monday, his coach, Jon Cooper, made his way to the front of the scrum without Stamkos noticing him.

"Any questions from the rookie reporter?" the reporter next to Cooper asked.

"How you feeling today?" Cooper asked using a water bottle as a mic.

"Ah, I feel better than I did yesterday. I'll probably be a game-time decision," Stamkos said, laughing.

Another reporter then asked, "How do you think the coach has done in this series?"

"I'd like to get out there a little more. I'm not complaining. We'll see," Stamkos said with a smile.

This was just another example of how Cooper, a potential Jack Adams Award candidate, is keeping things loose and positive despite his team heading into Game 4 on Tuesday down 3-0 in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

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Subban sparks Canadiens with highlight-reel assist

Monday, 04.21.2014 / 1:19 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- P.K. Subban could have wound up benched.

The Montreal Canadiens defenseman has certainly found himself glued to Michel Therrien's bench on similar plays to the one he made near the end of the second period of a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bell Centre on Sunday night.

Instead of being benched, however, Subban set up a goal that demoralized the Lightning, coming 2:32 after an apparent go-ahead goal for Tampa Bay had been disallowed and 2:01 after Lightning captain Steven Stamkos left the game with an injury, though he eventually returned for the third period.

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Stamkos returns after injury in second period

Monday, 04.21.2014 / 12:12 AM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos left Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Montreal Canadiens at 16:09 of the second period with an injury.

Stamkos was skating through the neutral zone when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Brandon Prust and fell. As he was falling, Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin was skating back toward his own zone when he tried to step over Stamkos and struck him in the head with his right knee.
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McCarthy: First goal, beating trap keys for Lightning

Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 5:29 PM / Lightning vs Canadiens - 2014 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens, NHL.com has enlisted the help of longtime NHL assistant/associate coach Kevin McCarthy to break down the action. McCarthy will be checking in throughout the series.

McCarthy played in more than 500 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, then spent a decade as an assistant and associate coach with the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was a member of the staff that led the franchise to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006. He joined the Flyers as an assistant during the 2009-10 season and stayed in Philadelphia until October 2013.

If there is one person who can relate with Lightning coach Jon Cooper right now, it would be Kevin McCarthy.
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Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness