MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens made Ben Bishop work for his Game 1 win on Friday night.
Bishop made 43 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Canadiens 2-1 in double overtime to open their second round playoff series.
“We threw everything at him — hit two or three posts there,” said forward Max Pacioretty of Montreal’s first period. “It’s the way the game goes sometimes. Our start was exactly what we wanted. We got the fans into it. It didn’t go our way in the first.”
Michel Therrien’s men were relentless as soon as the puck dropped. The Habs established a good forecheck, crashed Bishop’s net and threw a slew of pucks on goal.
Less than two minutes into the contest, David Desharnais came inches from giving Montreal the early lead. Using defenceman Matthew Carle as a screen, Desharnais faked a pass and whipped a no-look shot towards Bishop that rang off the post.
The puck bounced out in front of the net and a quick whistle by the referee put an end to a scramble in Bishop’s crease.
Midway through the first, the Canadiens hit iron again. Pacioretty beat three Lightning players to a loose puck in front of the net but his shot found the same post to Bishop’s left. On the rebound, Tampa’s goalie made a great pad save to deny Brendan Gallagher.
Two minutes later, Montreal continued its sustained pressure on the Lightning netminder. With Gallagher lying in the crease and Pacioretty poking away at the puck, Bishop made an improbable toe save to keep the puck from crossing the goal-line.
“It’s been a little bit like that for us in these playoffs,” said defenceman P.K. Subban. “We’ve had good starts in games and we’re just not able to get that first goal. If you get that first goal, it’s a different game.”
Montreal has now conceded the first goal six times in its seven playoff games.
Good scoring opportunities became more rare for the Canadiens as the game progressed and as Bishop steadied. The teams took scoreless ties into the first and second intermissions before Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson opened the score at 2:34 of the third period.
Despite the loss, Canadiens forward Dale Weise was happy with how Montreal opened its series again a team that has beat them in all six meetings this season.
“It was a good start, that’s how we wanted to come out,” said Weise, who missed an open net in the first minute of the second overtime period. “We were physical and we played in their zone. Full marks to us for coming out with a good start. We had some glorious chances.
“When you come out with a start like that, you have to be happy. That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to come out and set the tone and I thought we did that.”
Pacioretty tied the game with five minutes remaining on the clock before Nikita Kucherov scored the winner in double overtime.
Game 2 goes Sunday evening at the Bell Centre.
Notes: Carey Price stopped 33-of-35 shots in defeat. … NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance. … The Lightning had a goal disallowed at 2:56 of the first overtime period.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press