Tampa Bay, Chicago, Anaheim try to take 2-0 lead
The Montreal Canadiens have had six opportunities, and they haven’t beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.
When the Atlantic Division rivals meet next in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Canadiens will still bring plenty of confidence to their home ice.
Their chances to score in Game 1 were plenty. They’re counting on many more on Sunday night.
”We’re around the net. We’re getting it toward the net. We’re doing everything right. It’s just not going in,” said right wing Devante Smith-Pelly, who was denied twice by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop in a 2-1 double- overtime loss.
The Canadiens, who swept the Lightning in four games in the first round of the playoffs last year, went 0-5 against them during the regular season with Bishop, who made 43 saves in the opener on Friday night at the Bell Centre, in the net each time. Thirteen of Bishop’s stops came after regulation.
”We were well prepared to play that team,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after practice on Saturday morning. ”That’s all you can ask.”
Here’s a glance at the three games on the NHL slate on Sunday (all times Eastern):
Lightning at Canadiens, Game 2, Tampa Bay leads 1-0, 6 p.m., NBC Sports Network
The Canadiens have four goals in their last four playoff games and have scored only 13 times since the start of the postseason, but they’re not the only ones in a slump. Lightning star Steven Stamkos has not scored in nine games, including the regular season finale, for the longest such streak since his rookie year.
Stamkos called the first-round series against Detroit an ”eye-opener,” reminding him the variety of ways beyond goals he can contribute, but for a guy who scored 43 times during the regular season the extended streak has been surprising.
Nikita Kucherov took care of the winner in Game 1, 2:06 into the second overtime on a play that was clearly offside. Tyler Johnson leads the NHL with seven postseason goals in just eight games.
Wild at Blackhawks, Game 2, Chicago leads 1-0, 8:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network
THE CHICAGO CHALLENGE
The Minnesota Wild have been bounced from the playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks in each of the last two years, and their 4-3 loss in Game 1 at the United Center dropped their record to 0-7 on the road against their division nemesis over the last three postseasons.
The Wild haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 13, the day before they traded for goalie Devan Dubnyk. He bounced back capably from a 6-1 loss to St. Louis in Game 4 of their first-round series, so there’s no worry on the Wild’s part that he won’t do so again.
”We still feel fine. We’re not freaking out or anything,” said left wing Zach Parise, who has 24 points in 25 playoff games with the Wild. ”We’re not concerned about what’s happened in the past.”
BLACKHAWKS WON’T BUDGE
The Blackhawks also raised their record to 27-0 this season when leading after two periods, including twice in the playoffs.
”It’s a situation we want to be in. We like having the lead and protecting leads,” defenseman Johnny Oduya said.
Flames at Ducks, Game 2, Anaheim leads 1-0, 9 p.m., CNBC
Will the Anaheim Ducks ever lose any momentum?
The Ducks trailed in the third period three times in the first round against Winnipeg, but they still swept the Jets in four games to earn some extra rest. The Ducks then gave that whole rust thing a sharp check into the boards, with a 6-1 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 1 on Thursday night.
They’ve had two more days to prepare for Game 2, and coach Bruce Boudreau, perhaps wary of the possibility of a drop-off at some point, put the players through a relatively strenuous practice on Saturday.
”We got a good amount of rest after that Winnipeg series and before Game 1 that we kind of needed, to get back into the swing of things and compete against each other,” right wing Kyle Palmieri said. ”If you’re in Bruce’s chair, you see how well that worked, and we want to continue our good practice habits.”
The Flames relished the extra day off.
”I think it was a bit of a blessing for us,” center Joe Colborne said. ”I’m sure they wanted to get right back out on the ice and play again after how they played.”
Coach Bob Hartley tried to keep the mood light on Friday following the blowout, showing players a movie clip of a young Brandon Bollig during meetings. Bollig had a stint as a childhood actor.
”You need to have fun. There is so much pressure that we can’t control,” Hartley said, ”that the pressure we can control, I think it’s our job to keep the boys loose.”
Bollig took the ribbing in stride.
”I knew exactly how it would go. I knew guys would get a kick out of it,” he said.
Speaking of change, Hartley pulled Jonas Hiller from the net early in the second period of Game 1 after he gave up three goals on 14 shots. Karri Ramo took over, and he’s been announced as the starter for Game 2.
”We prepare for both goalies. You can say you are starting Karri Ramo, but I never know,” Boudreau said. ”I’ve known Bob for a long time.”