Canadiens strike back with 3-2 win over Lightning
MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens got their revenge in the second of back-to-back games with the Tampa Bay Lightning by posting a 3-2 win on Tuesday.
Kirby Dach scored after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury. Jonathan Drouin and Mike Matheson added goals for Montreal. Nick Suzuki collected two assists.
Sam Montembeault made 31 saves as Montreal (28-37-6) registered a second win in their last 10 games. The Canadiens lost 5-3 on Saturday to the Lightning in Tampa Bay, Fla.
Brayden Point and Pat Maroon scored as the Lightning (42-24-6) dropped back-to-back games.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 17 saves for the Bolts.
Dach broke the ice on his first game back from injury. The forward took a shot from the slot but Vasilevskiy mishandled the puck. Dach had enough time to circle the netminder and tap in the opening goal.
Drouin doubled Montreal’s lead 14 minutes into the first when he received a cross-ice pass from Denis Gurianov and beat the Tampa netminder over the glove with a wrist shot.
The Lightning got on the board at 8:58 of the second period on the power play. Point accepted Steven Stamkos’ pass and stunned Montembeault with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle.
Montembeault made two big saves to keep Montreal in the lead with 5:05 remaining in the second. The Habs netminder robbed Lightning defenceman Nick Perbix with the tip of his pad before making another save to ice the puck.
Montreal thanked their goalie by taking a 3-1 advantage just over two minutes later. Matheson launched a wrist shot from the point, which deflected off former Hab Mikhail Sergachev and past Vasilevskiy.
Tampa cut Montreal’s lead to one goal at 14:54 of the third period thanks to Montreal defenceman Justin Barron’s failed clearance. Corey Perry intercepted the puck and sent it toward the crease where Maroon tapped in his third goal of the season.
Montreal held on for the final minutes of the third to give their home crowd the win.
In the final seconds of the game, Mikhail Sergachev pushed Josh Anderson into Tampa’s empty net. The Montreal forward collided with the post and was helped off the ice.
GALLAGHER, DACH RETURN
The Montreal Canadiens welcomed back two key pieces of their roster back from lengthy injuries. Forwards Brendan Gallagher and Kirby Dach both returned from their respective lower-body injuries.
Gallagher played only his second game since the turn of the year after being absent since Jan. 3. Dach was originally diagnosed with a non-COVID illness that had him sidelined since Feb. 16 but after further testing the illness symptoms were revealed to be related to a lower-body injury.
“Gally’s a competitor and he wants to be on the ice with his teammates so we’re happy for him,” said Habs coach Martin St. Louis before the game. “For the players and myself, it’s about coming back before the end of the season and feeling good so that they can bring that into their summer. If they end up producing, it’s a bonus.”
Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin has been playing some of his best hockey since the turn of the year. The 27-year-old has picked up 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 23 games since the start of 2023.
The Canadiens visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
The Lightning take on the Senators in Ottawa on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.
Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press