Tampa Bay looks to take a 2-0 series lead, while the Montreal Canadiens look to get a split in Florida before things shift to the Bell Centre. Here are three storylines to watch on Wednesday evening:
Montreal needs to generate more offense
Plain and simple, 19 shots in a Stanely Cup Final game is not enough for Montreal. The Canadiens failed to sustain pressure and chances on Andrei Vasilevskiy – and it’s not exactly easy to beat one of the league’s top goaltenders.
It has to be a must for the Canadiens to get shots on the net to have a chance to get back into this series. The 19 shots that Montreal had in Game 1 were their lowest total of the post-season but at the same time, credit has to be given to Tampa for limiting the Canadiens’ chances. Tampa’s defensive play limited sustained high-quality chances and the shot blocked tally was by far in favor of the Lightning, 15-5.
The good news for Montreal, though, is that despite the loss, the team only trailed by one when it came to high danger chances, with Tampa having the 8-7 advantage. That’s something to build upon, at least.
The names checking in and the names checking out
Tampa Bay is losing a key name in their lineup tonight, while there’s a chance that Montreal could be adding some back into theirs. Tampa Bay will be without Alex Killorn as he suffered an undisclosed injury during Game 1.
It has yet to be determined who’ll be taking his place in the lineup on the second line but his loss in the lineup will be big as he’s put up 17 points this post-season and also is used on Tampa Bay’s top power-play unit.
For Montreal, there’s a chance that they could see a return of Joel Armia. Armia missed Game 1 due to COVID-19 protocols and will be a game-time decision. Jake Evans will also be a game-time decision for Montreal after returning to the lineup in Game 1 for the first time after sustaining a concussion during Montreal’s second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.
Both Armia and Evans took part in the morning skate.
Montreal’s need to start strong
The series may just be beginning but for Montreal, but they want to avoid at all costs coming out flat. The stats heavily favor teams going into Game 3 up 2-0 in a series. Teams who go up 2-0 have a .902 winning percentage in the Cup Final when it comes to clinching the series.
Granted, these are the same Canadiens who rebounded from dropping Game 1 of their series against the Vegas Golden Knights and also battled all the way back from being down 3-1 vs Toronto.