After dropping four of their last five games on the road the Habs were looking to change their fortune against the Tampa Bay lightning. This match up against the Lightning marked the debut of James Wisniewski in a Habs uniform as well as the NHL debut of former Habs prospect Cedrick Desjardins. Desjardin's debut did not start off very well as only 58 seconds into the first period he allowed the first goal of the game on Montreal’s first shot. Scott Gomez found Max Pacioretty streaking in on the left side who then took a shot on goal. Desjardins was unable to make the save as the puck hit Brett Clark’s skate to go to the back of the net. With the Habs taking a quick one goal lead Travis Moen and Jeff Halpern continued to apply pressure in the Lightning’s zone with good work along the boards. At the other end, Martin St. Louis took a quick shot on Carey Price creating a rebound. Teddy Purcell jumped on the rebound forcing Price to make another save.
Wisniewski then showed us a glimpse of why the Habs acquired him when he shot a blast from the point which Desjardins stopped. After the save Wisniewski broke up a pass near his own blue line to prevent Steven Stamkos from streaking in alone on Price. With the Lightning continuing to press, Price decided to play the puck and almost coughed it up in the process. After clearing the puck away from danger the Habs came looking for more when Michael Cammalleri took a shot that missed the net in the Lightning zone. This led to Montreal’s first power play of the game and almost led to Wisniewski’s first goal. Wisniewski took a blast from the point beating everyone but the post. After the close call Desjardins got lucky as he manage to sit on the puck to stop play with Tomas Plekanec poking at it. Near the end of the penalty Montreal almost increased their lead again when Andrei Kostitsyn redirected a Cammalleri pass while in the slot. Desjardins made the pad save and then froze the puck quickly. After the unsuccessful power play Ryan Malone crushed Jaroslav Spacek in the Habs zone along the boards forcing the hallway door to open in the process. Lars Eller followed this up with some jump in his step but was unable to take a shot towards the net.
At 7:21, Roman Hamrlik received a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck into the crowd while in his zone. The Lightning power play was short lived as Clark got called for tripping Plekanec who was looking to escape his zone for a 2 on 1 attack. On the ensuing 4 on 4 Brian Gionta found Spacek all alone in the slot, who then shot the puck high missing the net completely. With Tampa Bay skating the other way, Benoit Pouliot took an unnecessary hooking penalty in the neutral zone. The Bolts’ best opportunity on the power play came after Price stopped a Sean Bergenheim shot creating a rebound. Price then stopped Simon Gagne back to back and was saved by the referee’s quick whistle. Both teams continued to skate in each other’s zones for the rest of the period with no real scoring threats from either team. Montreal headed to the dressing room with a 1-0 lead to end the first.
Bergenheim was the first player to test Price in the second period followed by a blocked shot on Gionta at the other end. At 1:50, Montreal got caught with a too many men on the ice call giving the Lightning the early momentum in the period. Plekanec continued his good penalty killing as he managed to take a shot on Desjardins who made the save. Price had to be sharp as well after Clark’s shot deflected off of Hamrlik and almost fooled him. Then the unthinkable happened, with the Habs still killing off their penalty they somehow managed to get called for too many men for a second time in a row giving the Lightning a two man advantage. St. Louis wasted no time in capitalizing when he beat Price top corner after faking a pass.
Montreal killed off the remainder of the second penalty but Tampa Bay kept the momentum as they kept the Habs hemmed into their zone for several minutes. After what felt like an eternity Gomez made a quick pass to a trailing Gionta who took a hard shot on Desjardins. Desjardins bobbled the puck a bit off of the shot but then froze it quickly to stop the play. Tampa Bay went right back on the attack after the save crashing Price’s net. With Nate Thompson in front of him, Price had to make another save on a Clark point shot. With the Lightning still pressing, Spacek blocked a shot creating a 4 on 2 attack for his teammates. Maxim Lapierre carried the puck into the Lightning zone where he shot the puck from a bad angle hitting the side of the net wasting a scoring opportunity.
At 12:31, the Lightning received a strange goal to take the lead. With Spacek And Stamkos battling near Price’s net, Pavel Kubina directed the puck towards the front of the net. As Spacek was about to get called for interfering with Stamkos the puck bounced off of them while crashing into Price redirecting the puck into the net. After the goal, Lapierre and P.K. Subban attempted to energize their team by throwing their weight around. This seemed to generate a little bit of momentum until Eller took a hooking penalty to put the Lightning back on the power play. The Habs killed off the penalty and then received a power play of their own when Gagne got called for interference. Montreal once again failed to score on their power play and almost gave up another shorthanded goal to boot. The play occured when Yannick Weber failed to keep the puck on the blue line turning it over to former Habs player Dominick Moore. Moore skated in on Price who was there to make the save. Tampa bay continued to apply pressure in the Habs zone for the rest of the period outshooting them 9 to 4 in the second.
The third period began with a long shot from Hal Gill prompting Desjardins in making an easy save. Going back the other way St. Louis found Stamkos who snuck in past Hamrlik and Spacek forcing Price to make the save. The referees then decided to give Stamkos a penalty shot as they determined that Hamrlik prevented a quality scoring chance. Stamkos completely undressed Price when he put on the breaks and made a spin-o-rama move to beat Price with a back hand shot for his 30th goal of the season. A few minutes later Stamkos was at it again. With Price hugging the post Malone started to poke at him to jar it loose, Stamkos found the puck and went around the net for an easy wrap around goal on an empty net. At this point of the game the Habs looked uninterested in playing the rest of the game as Tampa Bay kept winning all of the battles for the puck.
About halfway through the period Jacque Martin was spotted talking to his assistant coaches about replacing Price with Alex Auld for the rest of the game. It appeared that the change was going to happen until Tampa Bay got caught for too many men on the ice. Martin then changed his mind and kept Price in the nets for the power play hoping his team would get one. The power play did not change anything for the Habs as they were unable to generate any kind of momentum. After realizing that his team was done for the night Martin changed his mind again and replaced Price with Auld with just under eight minutes to play in the period. Auld made a couple of good saves on St. Louis and company but the Habs continued to play uninspired hockey for the rest of the game.
After playing like a new team in the first period, the Habs disappeared for the last two handing Desjardins an easy victory for his NHL debut. Montreal will face the Florida Panthers tomorrow in a rare 5:00pm start and will have to put in a full sixty minute effort if they want to win their last game of the year 2010.
HiD Three Stars
- Steven Stamkos
- Martin St. Louis
- Pavel Kubina
HiD Turning Point
Montreal taking back to back too many men on the ice penalties completely changed the flow of the game.