The Montreal Canadiens scored once in each period to take out Tampa Bay 3 –2 on Easter Sunday in Montreal. The only Canadian team to make the playoffs looks good to advance to the second round with a strangle hold 3-0 series lead on the mistake prone Lightning that barring a miracle will be heading for the golf course much sooner than they expected.
Just three NHL teams have returned from a 3-0 series deficit in the history of the NHL although it did happen not too long ago when Boston collapsed against the Flyers, it is still a huge hill to climb.
The Habs came out ready to play backed by a sell-out raucous crowd at the Bell Centre Sunday night. I took just 11 seconds for Montreal to grab the lead. Off the opening face off the Canadiens took possession in their own zone and looked to be getting organized when Subban fired the puck up the middle of the ice and hit a streaking Bourque who went in alone and fired a quick shot that Lindback probably should have stopped. That was the only goal of the period that saw the Canadiens swarm Tampa at times out shooting them 13-8 along the way.
With Tampa’s season on the line knowing a 3-0 series deficit is all but game over, they came out hard in the second and were rewarded when Palat tied the game at 8:39 with Stamkos assisting on the play. The Lightning then looked to take the lead a few minutes later when Ryan Callahan put the puck in past a sprawling and out of position Price on a wild scramble at 15:38.
At first glance the goal looked good however upon review the officials ruled no goal due to incidental contact with Price.
Upon further review and applying the letter of the law (rule 69) the call was correct however there have been dozens of worse interference plays resulting in goals that have been allowed to stand all through the regular season. http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=26480
No question the Habs got a big break that kept the game knotted at one. Near the end of the second period Montreal would take the lead for good and headed into the locker room up 2-1 after two.
The Canadiens increased their lead to two at 5:43 of the third when Plekanec scored what would prove to be the game winner on another stoppable shot that somehow found the back of the net. http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=-6&id=607106&cmpid=rss-wh...
Tampa pushed hard and got within one but in the end fell short as Montreal hung on for the 3-2 win to become the first team in these play-offs to be in a position to advance with just one more win. They will try to finish Tampa Bay off on Tuesday night with game 4 going at 7:00 eastern at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
A sweep would leave the Canadiens in an excellent position going forward, barring injuries, as none of the games have thus far gone to overtime or been overly physical like some of the series out west. Winning in four or even five ensures a good amount of rest and recovery before round two. Teams playing shorter less physical series early on can have a clear advantage as the play-offs progress. One thing that's a certainty is the team lucky enough to come out of the west will worn down and banged up come the finals.