Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning Game 3 preview
TIME: COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7:00 P.M.
Having home-ice advantage in last year's first-round series with the Montreal Canadiens did nothing to help the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay has turned the tables on Montreal in this postseason.
After taking the first two on the road, the Lightning look to pull within a victory of reaching the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night at home.
Tampa Bay fell in an 0-2 hole in 2014 before being swept with two defeats in Montreal. After winning all five meetings in the regular season, the Lightning won Game 1 on the road aided by a blown non-call before Sunday's dominant 6-2 victory.
Coach Jon Cooper is confident his club can carry its solid play to its home rink despite Tampa being just 2-4 in Amalie Arena over the last two postseasons. It dropped two during its seven-game win over Detroit in the first round.
"I'm not as much worried about Montreal's desperation level as I am ours," Cooper said. "The mere fact that we're at home means nothing in Game 3 of the playoffs. To us, the series is 0-0 and we need to treat it like that."
The Canadiens have lost their last three playoff games at home, but they won two of three on the road while beating Ottawa in six games in the first round.
"I don't know how much home ice has been an advantage in all the playoffs so far," said Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who has a .961 save percentage while winning the last four. "We look forward to going home, but it's not going to be any easier."
And the Canadiens in no way are feeling defeated. Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy finalist Carey Price allowed his most goals of the season in Game 2, but his teammates didn't give him much help as the Lightning converted 4 of 8 on the power play.
Montreal is 1 for 26 with the man advantage in the playoffs, leaving special teams as the main area of focus in practice leading up to this contest.
"We still have a lot of belief in our locker room and the guys that we have," defenseman Tom Gilbert told the team's official website. "It doesn't matter how many times they beat us throughout the regular season, Game 1 or Game 2. I think if we can just play a full 60 minutes, we'll give ourselves a good chance to win."
Price's .922 save percentage in the playoffs doesn't exactly stand out after he led the NHL with a .933 mark in the regular season. However, he's at .947 in even-strength situations, with nine of the 20 goals he's allowed in the postseason coming with the Canadiens short-handed.
Montreal's 138 penalty minutes rank second among playoff teams, and its inability to stay out of the box provides more power-play time for Steven Stamkos. He scored his first goal of this year's playoffs with the man advantage in Game 2.
"It was definitely a release of some things that have been building up," Stamkos said. "Whether it's my first or my 20th, your emotions are running high. Any time you score a goal in the playoffs it's exciting, but that one maybe a little more so than others I've scored."
The Lightning were 0 for 23 on the power play over their previous six before Sunday's outburst.