The Tampa Bay Lightning were taking on more than the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They also had to battle the flu bug, which kept the status in question, or kept out all together, four different players. The Lightning were without the services of Brendon Mikkelson, Tim Wallace, and Nate Thompson. Teddy Purcell, who also had flu like symptoms earlier in the day, was able to get into the lineup.
In the end though, the Lightning were able to overcome all of those losses and beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1, with goals from Steven Stamkos and Adam Hall. The goal for Hall was his first in 45 games. The Hall goal was a pretty one, as Ryan Malone found Hall in front with almost a perfect saucer pass. The regulation win was huge for the Lightning, as it moved them to within another point of the final playoff spot in the east. They now trail eigth place Washington by five points.
Two of the three new defenseman made their debuts with the team on Tuesday, with Brian Lee getting 15:31 of ice time and finishing a +1 on the night and Mike Commodore finishing with 15:32 of ice time.
“I think [the result] speaks to how much character we have in this room,” Forward Adam Hall said. “Whether or not we’ve been able to show it all year, we know that we’ve got the pieces in here and we believe in each other, so I think its another great game to show that.”
The Good: Matheiu Garon, Garon was spectacular, especially in the second period, stopping the Canadiens on multiple point blank shots, and keeping his team in the game. Garon made 23 saves on 24 shots, and at times in the second period, did an outstanding job keeping his team in the game.
Garon has been spectacular as the number one goaltender of late. He has made tremendous saves, and overall been steady between the pipes for the Lightning. If the Lightning are going to continue their run at a playoff spot, they will need to count on Garon to continue to play as well as he has over the last month.
“[Beating Montreal] is a little bit special,” Garon said. “They’re a great team, but at the same time, its all about us getting the two points. Right now, that’s all we need.”
Rough Stuff: There were some tense moments in the second period when Montreal defenseman Alexi Emelin threw a late hit on Lightning forward Ryan Malone. After a brief scrum, Malone went after Emelin near his own bench and ended up getting ejected in the altercation that ensued.
In the third period, Brad Staubitz and Pierre Cedric-Labrie dropped the gloves, after Labrie threw a clean hit. Staubitz challenged Labrie, and they fought.
Coach Guy Boucher was not pleased with the sequence that led to the hit, but understood Malone’s reasoning for his response.
“The blind-sided hit he took was extremely dangerous,” Boucher said. “He took care of his own business.”
Up Next: The Lightning get a visit from one of the best teams in the NHL, and the team leading the East, the New York Rangers on Friday night. Game time in that one is 7:30pm.