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Burns: 3 Things we learned from a loss in Montreal

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns takes an in-depth look at the Bolts 3-1 loss on Thursday

by Bryan Burns /

Tampa Bay came into Thursday's early-season tilt with Atlantic Division leader Montreal having won both games on its current six-game road trip.

The Lightning wanted to keep the momentum going and keep pace with Montreal in the Atlantic with a victory at the Bell Centre.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down in the third period for the Bolts.

And they lost Nikita Kucherov to boot.

Montreal scored three-straight goals in the third, Max Pacioretty netting the game-winner with just under 10 minutes to play to hand the Lightning their first road loss of the season.

Following the game, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper didn't have an update on Kucherov, who left in the first period after falling onto the ice and crashing into the boards. Kucherov stayed in the game but didn't return for the second or third periods.

The Lightning will look to get back on track on Saturday when they travel to the Prudential Center to take on the New Jersey Devils.

But before we look ahead to New Jersey, let's recap with 3 Things that kept the Lightning from pullin through in Montreal.


Video: TBL@MTL: Bishop leaves the net to start breakoutThe Lightning and Canadiens entered their Atlantic Division showdown as two of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL.

The Bolts ranked third in the league, netting 3.83 goals per game.

The Habs were fourth at 3.71 each outing.

Naturally, however, Thursday's contest produced little offense.

The Lightning struggled even to find the net through the first 10 minutes, getting outshot 5-0. They trailed 9-4 in shots after the first period.

Gradually, though, the Bolts caught up in the shots department, ending the second period tied 17-17.

And in the second, Alex Killorn finally broke through for the Bolts, scoring his team-leading sixth goal of the season on a beautiful redirect in front of Montreal goaltender Carey Price on a shot from the point by Victor Hedman.

"I saw him back door, and he's been hot lately," Hedman said. "I tried to put it on his stick and he made a nice play battling through that screen. I just tried to put it in there for him, and he did the rest."

After going scoreless over the first 40 minutes, Montreal rallied in the third, scoring three-consecutive goals, including an empty-netter, to overtake the Lightning.

Despite the Bolts and Habs coming in as two of the best offenses in the league, fans shouldn't have been surprised by the low score, however.

That's because the game also featured two of the league's top goaltenders in Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop and the Habs' Price.

"I'm not too surprised," Killorn said. "Usually at the beginning of the season, it's a little more open, you see more chances. But with a team like this, you knew it was going to be tight, and you need to get more shots if you want to win against Carey Price. He's just too good of a goalie to not get clear shots."

Added Lightning head coach Jon Cooper: "You need to get almost perfect shots to go in, and they just had one more than us."

Video: Jon Cooper PC: Postgame TBL 1 - MTL 3The Lightning held a 1-0 lead entering the third period and had a chance to add to it with over 1:30 carried over from a late second-period power play to start the third but failed to convert.

The Bolts were awarded another power play and had a brief 5-on-3 when Andrei Markov sent the puck out of play from his own end, all the way to the other end of the ice and over the glass behind Ben Bishop's goal.

Again, the Lightning couldn't do anything with the extra man.

A couple minutes later, Nikita Nesterov was sent to the penalty box for hooking, and Montreal capitalized to break through for its first goal, Alex Galchenyuk taking a cross-ice feed on the right dot and unleashing a one-timer past Bishop.

"Both teams were fired up," Hedman said. "Five-on-five, it was a tight game. They made a good play on the power play. That was the difference tonight."

Buoyed by their new-found confidence, the Canadiens netted one more, Max Pacioretty blasting a shot from the edge of the right circle that benefitted from a screen in front of Bishop.

"It was a pretty even game," Cooper said. "In the end it was special teams. They had a power-play goal, and we didn't. We had that kind of four-minute stretch, and we only had one decent look. It comes down to two good teams playing, chances were probably even, shots were close. It was a tight-checking game. It came down to special teams."


Video: Victor Hedman: Postgame TBL 1 - MTL 3Following Tampa Bay's morning skate, Victor Hedman said the Lightning had to take control late in periods and in the third with Montreal playing the second half of a back-to-back with the added fatigue of traveling home from New York the night before.

These were game the Bolts would have to take advantage of over a long season with many factors coming into play in each one. Montreal should have been tired, especially late, playing in two games in two nights.

But, surprisingly, it was the Canadiens who found an extra surge in the final period, overcoming a 1-0 deficit to win their seventh game of the season and continue without a loss in regulation.

The Bolts wanted to play simple against Montreal but were perhaps a "little too simple" Thursday night according to Alex Killorn, particularly in the first period when both teams were feeling one another out.
"We weren't making plays," Killorn said. "But then as we started to get some confidence, we made plays and got some opportunities. But still, it was a game where there wasn't much out there."

The Canadiens stayed within striking distance throughout until they were able to strike in the third.

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