While this wasn't a flawless performance for the Lightning, they certainly played well enough to record the victory.
Lightning players weren't happy with the beginning of Tuesday's game against Boston and wanted to have a better start in this contest. That they did. Victor Hedman scored in the opening minute, finishing a slapshot from the slot after the Lightning executed a crisp passing sequence in the offensive zone. Before the first period ended, they had extended the lead. Anthony Cirelli took advantage of a risky pinch by Jeff Petry in the Lightning's defensive zone. Cirelli chipped the puck past Petry and countered on an odd-man rush. He set up Alex Killorn at the right circle and Killorn zipped a wrist shot into the top of the net. Blake Coleman didn't earn a point on the goal, but he positively affected the play. His hustle up ice created a three-on-one and forced Brett Kulak, the lone Montreal defender, to hold his position in the middle of the ice. That created more room for Killorn.
In the first period, the Lightning owned the majority of the puck possession. But when the Habs did counter and brought the puck into the Lightning's end, they were able to generate scoring chances. Andrei Vasilevskiy made a handful of tough saves during the opening stanza, including multiple stops on Joel Armia.
The Lightning's possession edge carried into the start of the second period. But they had a more difficult time translating that possession time into shots and scoring chances. Then, around the halfway point of the game, the possession narrative shifted. Over the final 30 minutes, Montreal owned more of the possession. The Lightning weren't as sharp in their puck management and struggled to cleanly clear pucks from their own end. At the same time, however, the Lightning drastically reduced the number of chances against. They played hard in front of their net and didn't allow the Canadiens to generate shots from dangerous areas. Late in the period, the Lightning added to their lead. Off the rush, Pat Maroon took a hit along the boards, but still delivered a perfect pass to Nikita Kucherov in the low slot. Kucherov redirected the puck past Carey Price.
In the third, the Canadiens continued to own more puck possession, but similar to the second period, the Lightning kept most of Montreal's shots to the outside. The Habs did generate some better looks during a late third period power play (and Armia recorded one more chance during a Montreal penalty kill in the closing minutes), but Vasilevskiy denied all of those shots.
So from the Lightning's perspective, there were a few too many chances allowed early and some sloppy puck play in the second half of the game. But as a whole, it was a good win, one that they deserved.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 32-save shutout.
- Victor Hedman - Lightning. Two goals.
- Alex Killorn - Lightning. Goal.