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Burns: 3 Things from an overtime loss to Montreal

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 2-1 loss in overtime to Montreal

by Bryan Burns /

With the regular season coming to a rapid conclusion and the Tampa Bay Lightning still looking on the outside of the playoff chase, the Bolts can ill-afford to let points slip.

Saturday, the Lightning picked up a significant point after battling Montreal to a 1-1 draw through 60 minutes of regulation.

However, they let a second point fall by the wayside when Alexander Radulov netted the game-winner 51 seconds into the extra session in a 2-1 overtime victory for the Canadiens at AMALIE Arena.

Montreal ended Tampa Bay's four-game win streak. And the Canadiens put the Lightning's playoffs chances in even more jeopardy in the process.

The Lightning will have a quick turnaround to get back on the ice. The Bolts host Dallas on Sunday in the second half of a home back-to-back set.

But before turning the page on the Montreal setback, let's examine the main takeaways from Saturday in 3 Things we learned from an overtime loss to the Habs.

Video: Cooper on Bolts 2-1 OT loss to MTL


No matter what the Lightning do on the ice of late, it seems they can't make up any ground in the Eastern Conference standings.

That scenario played out again on Saturday. Despite grabbing a hard-earned point against the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens, the Bolts find themselves in a worse position Saturday night than they did earlier that morning.

Before Tampa Bay and Montreal even got under way, Boston earned a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers to hold onto the final wild card in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins have won four in a row.

And minutes after the Lightning were defeated on Radulov's game-winner, Toronto held on to defeat Detroit 5-4 on the road, the Maple Leafs' third-straight win.

The Lightning now find themselves four points behind Boston for the second wild card but still own a game in hand. The Bolts trail Toronto and Ottawa by five points for third in the Atlantic Division, the Maple Leafs pulling into a tie with the Senators for second in the division.

With five games remaining in the regular season, time is running on Tampa Bay's playoff chances.

"We obviously know every game is huge," said Lightning forward Yanni Gourde, who scored the Bolts' lone goal to extend his goal streak to a career-high three games. "I'm not really too worried about the other teams. I'm worried about our effort tomorrow night."

The Lightning might not be worried about what teams ahead of them in the standings are doing, but they better hope for some losses from the Bruins and the Maple Leafs and the Senators soon or the Bolts will be out of the postseason for the first time since 2012-13 no matter how they finish down the stretch.

 Video: Hedman on Bolts falling short


Coming into Saturday's game against Montreal, the Lightning had given up the game's first goal in seven-straight games.

That dubious streak was extended to eight games after the Bolts allowed another opening goal to the Canadiens.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had one of his better performances of the season in net for Tampa Bay, thwarting Montreal time and time again. But a mistake by one of the Bolts' MVP candidates turned out to be the opening the Canadiens would need to find a way past Vasilevskiy.

Nearly three-fourths of the way through the second period, Victor Hedman took control of the puck behind his own goal but lost control as he came out from behind the net. Montreal's Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault were both waiting in front to whack at the loose puck, and Danault finally shoved a shot past Vasilevskiy to open the game's scoring.

"You can look at it a couple of ways," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "You can say, 'Well, that was a bad one to give up.' Or you could look at it and say that Vasy made like six bellers and we still pushed that game to overtime. It was one of those games, they were a good team and we've been asked for so much from our guys and they just keep delivering and delivering. The first period was a little bit of a snoozer, and (the Canadiens) came out in that second half of the second period and really took it to us. And Vasilevskiy, he gave up the one but clearly he kept us in it. But, kind of the signature of this team, they found a way in the third to will us at least a point and give us the chance that we had in overtime. So I look at it as a complete positive because we got a point out of the game."

The Bolts had managed to rally from behind in their last four games but weren't able to do it a fifth-consecutive night.

Tampa Bay falls to 4-3-1 over its last eight games in which it's allowed the opening goal in each.

 Video: Gourde on Bolts missed opportunities

There's always that one fan in the stands, you know the one, he or she yells, "shoot the puck" even though the pucks at center ice and a shot would be the last thing a smart team would want in that situation.

That fan would have had a point Saturday night.

The Lightning didn't create nearly enough offensively to trouble Montreal's Carey Price. The Bolts managed just seven shots in the first period and followed that up with only six in the second. Montreal owned a 24-13 shot advantage after 40 minutes.

For the game, Tampa Bay had 22 shots on goal, not nearly enough to test a world-class goalie like Price.

Montreal, on the other hand, sent 36 shots at Vasilevskiy, and the Russian netminder made 34 stops but dropped to 20-16-7 on the season.

"It was a grind tonight," Gourde said. "They played very tight. There wasn't much room out there tonight so it's kind of hard. I think we played better in the third period, and I think that was a game we should have brought right away in the first period."

The Lightning got more chances as the game progressed, especially in the final period while searching for the game-tying goal. But it took them much too long to get into the game in a critical contest for their playoff hopes.

"(The Canadiens) skate, they check and that's why they're going to win the division," Cooper said. "That's what happens. They've got a good team, but we're playing all these good teams down the stretch here and we're hanging with them all. It's really, really encouraging, but as I've said many, many times, we're running out of games here."

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