The Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning continued their series in the second round of the 2015 NHL Playoffs on Saturday night. Montreal, having won game four in Florida to stave off elimination, hosted game five – once again in need of a victory.
In what was a low-scoring affair, Montreal opened with a goal from Devante Smith-Pelly, his first of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. However following that tally, there was no offense in the remainder of the first, nor was there offense in the entire second period. It seemed as though, if Montreal were to survive, they would not do it comfortably as they had in game four.
Nerves got tense in the Bell Centre in the third period when Steven Stamkos, a profilic scorer but one who has not done a lot in the 2015 post-season to date, tallied his second goal of the series at 9:27 of the third. With Montreal down 3-1 and losing momentum in game five, their elimination appeared to be a very realistic possibility.
But if Habs fans felt a little tight in the chest they were able to breathe a little easier about 75% of the way through the third period. Not to be eliminated on their home ice, Montreal answered back when Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored his first of the post-season to pull ahead 2-1.
Tampa Bay controlled the puck for much of the last few minutes however the Canadiens did not give up a strong scoring chance. Behind 24 saves from Carey Price, arguably Montreal’s goat from earlier in the series, the Habs lived on to force game six.
Now comes the tough part.
The Canadiens will travel to Florida for game six, a game that Tampa Bay will host. The Lightning, unlike game four which also came from Tampa Bay, will probably approach the affair with a “must-win” mindset. The prosect of playing a game seven on the road in a hockey town is not one that Stamkos and all have to be looking forward to, especially not after holding a 3-0 lead.
The series, sitting at 3-2, appears to be up for grabs or the first time since the conclusion of game two. On that note, hockey fans following this series will need to wait all the way until Tuesday for the next game.