I had a couple of takeaways from tonight's game.
First of all, the Montreal Canadiens are playing great, defensive hockey under Claude Julien. The Habs improved to 14-5-1 since Julien took over as head coach and, based on how they performed in this game, it's easy to understand why they've been winning so much. They contested pucks all over the ice and, for the most part, took away the Lightning's time and space. Goaltender Carey Price only faced 22 shots and many of his 21 saves were routine ones.
Secondly, given how well the Habs played, the Lightning earned a valuable point. Yes, it's disappointing that they didn't pick up the second point (Nikita Kucherov had the game on his stick in overtime, but couldn't convert on a two-on-one) and ended up dropping a point in the standings to both Toronto and Boston. But this was a game in which the Lightning yielded lots of puck possession, shots and scoring chances. It was a contest they trailed, 1-0, heading into the third period. If not for the goaltending of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Yanni Gourde's key tying goal with 8:22 left, they might have come away with no points.
So the Lightning will bank their point, which gave them a two-point cushion over Carolina (which lost at home to Dallas) and the idle Islanders. They finish the night five points behind both Toronto and Ottawa and four back of Boston (with still a game in hand on the Bruins). Clearly, Sunday's game versus the Stars is a critical one. If the Lightning can win it, they'll keep themselves within striking distance of the playoff cut line ahead of next week's big games at Boston and Toronto.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Vasilevskiy's key saves throughout the game
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 34 saves.
- Carey Price - Canadiens. 21 saves.
- Yanni Gourde - Lightning. Goal.