The Lightning and Habs multiple overtime game is only the third multiple overtime game of the 2015 NHL playoffs. The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators had two multiple overtime games in the first round. Both were one by Chicago in the second and third overtimes respectively.
Tonight’s game in Montreal was the Canadien’s third game that exceeded 60 minutes and the Lightning’s second.
Throughout two periods of play in regulation there were no goals, and it was Tyler Johnson who opened the scoring with this seventh of the playoffs at 2:34 in the third. The Lightning kept the lead until the very end when Norris Trophy finalist handed the puck off to Max Pacioretty who tied the game at 14:47.
In the first OT there was no goal on Nikita Kucherov’s shot, but he got his retribution in the second overtime when he was finally able to get the puck past Price off the bench.
Any fears that Lightning fans may have had of a repeat of the 2014 Playoffs were squelched at 2:06 in 2OT.
The Lightning and Habs will meet again on Sunday at 6:00PM/18hr at Centre Bell in Montreal. They return to Tampa on Wednesday to face off against the Habs on home ice.
The Habs may have home ice advantage, but a big question is, does that even matter when it comes to Centre Bell? Most players say it is their favourite arena to play in. While this writer has never been to a game in the arena, in talking with other fans, it is clear that there is an electricity there that not even the Lightning’s Tesla coils can equal.
It leads to question if being in Centre Bell leads away teams to play even stronger than they would at any other away arena. It seems to be a very exciting atmosphere and the fans have more passion for their team than most other fans combined. I could be wrong here, but hearing them chant ‘Go Habs Go’ releases a certain, je ne sais quoi, shall I say, excitement? Even for the away teams. Most hockey fans grow up knowing about the Habs dynasty and that they are part of the Original Six. Those who grew up in Canada-français dreamed of playing for the team, so playing at Centre Bell, even for the away team may be like seeing their childhood dreams come true.
It is quite hard, at least for me, to be a hockey fan and not be a Habs fan. This was a no-no growing up in Pittsburgh, but in Florida nobody seems to care as long as you cheer for your home team when it matters. As much as I want to see the Habs win their first cup since 1993, I also want the Lightning to win even more. This series will be an exciting one knowing the sweeping history between the two teams.