TAMPA, Fla. — Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away 42 shots Wednesday as the Tampa Bay Lightning eked out a 3-1 win over the rejuvenated Montreal Canadiens in a thrilling Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final.
The Bolts mustered only 23 shots on Montreal netminder Carey Price, compared to 43 shots from the Habs.
But it wasn’t enough to solve Vasilevskiy, whose team now takes a 2-0 series lead into Game 3 Friday in Montreal.
The Lightning opened the scoring six minutes into the second on Anthony Cirelli’s blue-line wrister through traffic, which found its way past the blocker of an outstretched Price.
Blake Coleman and Ondrej Palat also scored for the Bolts, while Nick Suzuki managed the only Montreal goal.
The Canadiens went 1 for 3 on the power play, while the Lightning were blanked on three opportunities with the man advantage.
Montreal’s Suzuki evened things up at the halfway mark of the second, a blooper power-play backhand that Vasilevskiy failed to see from behind the ever-present Corey Perry.
The Bolts reclaimed the lead with just one second left in the middle frame when Coleman’s desperation lunge tipped a leading pass from Barclay Goodrow past Price as he slid across the crease.
But the ugliest goal of the night came late in the third, when Joel Edmundson’s casual backhand pass behind Price instead bounced straight to Palat, who fired from a bad angle and banked it in off the goaltender.
The first period featured more penalty minutes than points, notwithstanding the lopsided shots on goal: 13 for Montreal, a measly six for the Bolts.
The Habs held the robust Lightning power play scoreless on two chances in the first 20 minutes, but failed to capitalize on a rare 4-on-3 opportunity late in the period, the result of Ryan McDonagh’s double minor for a high stick that drew blood from Phillip Danault’s nose.
And while the Habs managed to avoid the number of turnovers they gave up in Game 1, the ones in the neutral zone that mattered the most were all the Bolts needed.
The team also announced Wednesday that the Quebec government refused to grant a request that 10,500 physically distanced fans be allowed to attend Friday’s Game 3 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Instead, ongoing COVID-19 restrictions will continue to limit capacity for Game 3 to just 3,500 fans.
THE CANADIAN PRESS