Lightning takes a 3-Zero lead within the remaining with victory in Montreal
Tyler Johnson scored twice while Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman both scored a goal and assist to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, giving them a win from the Stanley Cup -Final removed.
Jan Rutta and Blake Coleman also scored, and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for defending champion Lightning.
Phillip Danault, Nick Suzuki and Corey Perry answered for the Canadiens, whose coach Dominique Ducharme sat behind the bench for the first time since leaving at the start of the third round fighting COVID-19. Goalkeeper Carey Price stopped 24 shots.
The Canadiens must win Game 4 on Monday in Montreal, or the Lightning take their second Stanley Cup in a row and their third title in franchise history.
The last win in the Stanley Cup final came in 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Washington Capitals. The Canadiens were last swept by Detroit in a final in 1952.
Amid the emotions of the Canadiens returning home, the Lightning struck early with two goals 95 seconds apart. Rutta’s long shot from the wrist opened the strike at the 1:52 mark, the first NHL goal to be scored in July. Hedman’s power play goal, a blast from the point to 3:27, doubled the lead.
Danault’s first goal of the playoffs, a perfect bench shot from the near post to make it 11:16, gave the hosts a much-needed jolt, but the second third told the same story as the first.
Kucherov took advantage of a poor line change in Montreal and turned a two-on-nothing with Ondrej Palat at 1:40 of the middle frame. The goal earned Kucherov his 127th playoff point in his career, putting him in 48th place on the NHL list of all time, ahead of Maurice Richard and with Yvan Cournoyer, Luc Robitaille and Patrick Marleau.
Johnson’s record 113 seconds later, a converted rebound after Mathieu Joseph was denied an odd-man rush, extended the lead in Tampa Bay.
Suzuki scored 4-2 in the second half with 1:56 remaining when he shot a sharp shot past Vasilevskiy, but Johnson buried his own rebound for his second of the evening 4:41 before regular time.
Perry scored 39 seconds later while Montreal pulled the goalkeeper, but Coleman responded with an empty net with 3:12 on the clock to round off the goal.