The Montreal Canadiens were among the favorites to win the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs when the post-season began. Montreal, in backing up their reputation as one of the best teams in the league, roared out to a 3-0 lead against the Ottawa Senators in the first round. However since that time Montreal fans have seen their team flounder as the Habs have only claimed one win in their last five games. They now appear destined for a second round exit following play on Sunday.
The Canadiens opened the night of NHL hockey on Sunday with a home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Having already lost game one at home, Montreal were down 1-0 heading into game two. The approach to the game had to be “must-win” as few teams have lost the opening two games, from home, and gone on to claim an NHL series victory.
The fans in the Bell Centre had something to cheer about early in game two. The Habs scored first as Jeff Petry, a healthy scratch at times earlier in the season in Edmonton, tallied his first goal of the 2015 post-season. However after that it was pretty much all Tampa Bay as the Lightning put on a stellar offensive display.
Tampa Bay, from late in the first period to the 6:37 mark of the third, scored five goals unanswered. Steven Stamkos lit the lamp for the first time since the regular season and Nikita Kucherov, among other scorers, scored twice. Montreal barely replied as Tom Gilbert scored about midway through the third but by the time he scored it was too late. The Lightning cruised to a 6-2 victory and they now lead the best-of-seven series comfortably.
The lead appears all the more comfortable as Tampa Bay head home for games three and four. The Lightning were an outstanding team from home during the regular season as they went 32-8-1 when playing in their own rink. That record, good enough for league best, suggests that Montreal’s days are numbered.
On that note the Lightning could eliminate Montreal as soon as Thursday night as back-to-back games will be played on May 6th and 7th in Florida.