On Good Friday, the Habs will try to extend their series lead against the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
The opening game of the series had its share of gripping moments. In the end, the outcome was as good as it gets for the Canadiens' faithful. Dale Weise scored on a one-timer at 18:08 of the first overtime period to break a 4-4 tie. The goal was the Winnipeg native’s first career postseason tally and capped off an impressive performance from the Canadiens’ offensive units, which generated 44 shots to the Lightning’s 25.
Tampa struck first midway through the first period when Nikita Kucherov used a quick release to beat Carey Price between the pads. A scant nineteen seconds later, however, Tomas Plekanec evened the score by putting a wrist shot through Anders Lindback and just under the crossbar. Steven Stamkos restored the home team lead in the second period, but Lars Eller sprung Brian Gionta on a shorthanded breakaway and the captain buried his own rebound to shock the crowd. Both teams traded goals thereafter, with Lars Eller, Alex Killorn, Thomas Vanek and Steven Stamkos scoring in succession before the third period ran out.
Carey Price had a challenging start to the series. For most of the game, he stood by as his team was busy peppering the opposition with scoring chances. Tampa’s chances were few and far between, but dangerous when they did present themselves. After allowing four goals on the first 14 shots faced, Price held down the fort in key moments, making 11 consecutive saves before Weise ended the game in extra time.
Three Habs blueliners (Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban and Alexei Emelin) logged over 30 minutes in ice time. Leaders in shots on net were Thomas Vanek (7) and David Desharnais (6); four other players had four shots on goal apiece.
The Lightning may have to play Game 2 without Ondrej Palat. The dynamic forward left Wednesday’s game with an apparent injury and did not return. His place at the left of Steven Stamkos will likely be filled by Alex Killorn.