The Tampa Bay Lightning, with coach Jon Cooper on the COVID reserve list and six players sidelined with COVID, did just enough to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in overtime at Amalie Arena on Tuesday Night.
This was not one of the more impressive games for the Lightning, but the guys battled hard and, in the end, found a way to get the win.
The Lightning welcomed Braydon Point back to the lineup, and he did not disappoint. Point scored the first two goals for Tampa Bay in the first period to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead after the first period. Point, out with an upper-body injury since November 20th, looked in mid-season form as he also had six shots, collected an assist, and was named the first star of the game.
Interim coach Derek Lalonde talked about the play of Braydon Point and the explosiveness he brings to the Lightning. “Pointer’s a world-class, special player, but there are certain games at times that he has such pop in his game, where he’s just explosive, and the puck’s always on a stick, and that was one of those nights, and we certainly needed it.”
With Andrei Vasilevskiy on the COVID list, Maxim Legace was recalled from Syracuse to start in goal and stopped 27 of 31 Montreal shots to help the Lightning notch their 21st win of the season. This was Manny Legace’s first win since May 8th, when he wore the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Derek Lalonde talked about Legace’s performance after the win. “Lagace hasn’t really had a lot of time on the ice. There was enough volume in the game, some different looks in different situations. We’re confident he’ll give us another good performance next time.”
The game was a back and forth affair, with Montreal scoring first followed by the two Braydon Point goals for the Lightning to give the Bolts a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Montreal tied it up 2-2 in the second period before a Ross Colton goal (his third of the season)put the Lightning up 3-2 after two periods.
Montreal scored the first two goals of the third period to take a 4-3 lead, and it looked as if the Lightning would take the loss. But Corey Perry would not be denied as he scored his seventh goal of the season with 20 seconds left in regulation to tie it at four and send it to overtime.
With the Lightning having the momentum, it only took 36 seconds of overtime for Ondrej Palat to score his tenth of the season and give the Lightning the 5-4 win.
The Lightning has now won four straight and is a league-best 21-6-4 leading the league with 46 points.
The Lightning will play in Sunrise Thursday night against the Florida Panthers. Maxim Lagace or Hugo Ainefelt could get the start against the Panthers.
Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brian Elliott could be available for Friday’s game against the New York Rangers. However, that decision may not come until close to game time on Friday night.