MONTREAL – Tampa Bay struck four times on the power play and star centre Steven Stamkos ended his playoff scoring drought as the Lightning downed the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series on Sunday night.
After winning twice at the Bell Centre, the Lightning take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series back home to Amalie Arena for Game 3 on Wednesday and Game 4 on Thursday.
“We’re doing a lot of good things, but we have to find a way to finish around the net,” said Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban.
“We got a lot of chances. If we finish earlier, or get a couple of goals earlier, maybe it’s a different story.”
Nikita Kucherov, with two, Valtteri Filppula and Victor Hedman all scored with a man advantage as Tampa Bay got its first power-play goals since Game 2 of the opening round against Detroit.
J.T. Brown added an even-strength goal late in the third period.
“We took advantage of our power plays,” said Stamkos.
“That was nice because we’ve been struggling.”
Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert scored for Montreal, which outshot the Bolts 29-24 but went 0 for 3 on the power play.
The Habs are now 1 for 26 with the man advantage in the playoffs.
The Canadiens scored the first goal of a game for only the second time in eight post-season contests when Petry took a pass from Torrey Mitchell and scored on a wrist shot from the blue-line at 7:20.
It was Petry’s first-career playoff point.
Montreal was in control but then let it slip away with undisciplined penalties, as Brandon Prust got an extra two minutes for yapping at a referee and then Subban was sent off for cross-checking.
Filppula scored on the power play on a shot from the right circle at 19:36 to tie the game 1-1.
“We don’t want to be in the box all game,” said Subban.
“We can look at this game and say that it’s discipline – and that’s part of it – but we had opportunities to change the game early and it doesn’t happen for us.”
Stamkos used a fortunate bounce to go in on a breakaway and deke Carey Price for a goal 8:06 into the second frame.
It was the Lightning captain’s first goal in nine post-season games this year.
He also had two assists.
“It was nice to see it go in,” said Stamkos.
“I got a good bounce. The puck stuck with me at the blue-line. You know if you keep working hard eventually you’ll get the bounces and I was definitely relieved to see that one go in. But again, it hasn’t been as bad because the team has been finding ways to win. As long as you’re winning at this time of year, I’m happy.”
The Bolts had a 4-on-3 man advantage when Tyler Johnson slipped a cross-ice pass to Kucherov for a shot into an open side at 12:29.
Then, Price had no chance when Hedman finished a back-door play with Alex Killorn on a power play at 19:46.
Kucherov redirected a Johnson pass inside the post 6:37 into the third to make it 5-1 before Gilbert scored from the point at 11:06 for Montreal.
Brown added his goal at 16:05.
There were sweeps in both previous playoff meetings between the teams, with Tampa Bay winning in four in 2004 and Montreal doing the same last season.
Prust got a game misconduct with 3:55 left for bumping goaltender Ben Bishop, which started a fight with Braydon Coburn.
Notes – Centre David Desharnais was a late scratch with the flu, forcing Montreal to juggle lines, including reuniting the EGG line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. Tampa Bay lost twice at home in the first round against Detroit.