Bolts lose to Montreal as regular season nears end

by Gary Shelton on April 3, 2019 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos scored his 43rd goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

In 80 games, they have lost just 16 times.

Still, every loss smells like trouble, doesn't it?

The Lightning, with little to play for but the record book, lost a 4-2 decision to a Montreal team that is playing for a wild-card spot. The Canadiens pulled into a tie for the second spot Tuesday night.

The Lightning dropped to 60-16-4 (124 points) on the season. With the loss, the Lightning can no longer set a new NHL record for most wins in a single season. They must win their remaining two regular season games to tie the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings’ mark of 62 regular season wins.

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Paquette scored his 13th goal./TIM WIRT

“Clearly, they’ve got something they’re chasing, and they were desperate," said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper. "They played hard. They skated. We couldn’t match that. I don’t know who’s picking the stars, but did our goalie get one? He was outstanding tonight. He kept it as close as it was down the stretch. But Montreal played hard and they deserved to win.”

For the Bolts, Steven Stamkos scored his 43rd goal of the season. Cedric Paquette scored his13th.

Eddie Pasquale played in goal for the Bolts, stopping 41 shots.

“I thought he was outstanding," Cooper said. "It was funny, some of the goals that went in and some of the saves he made were a little bit of a reversal. He got a little unlucky on a couple, but clearly he was our No. 1 star tonight. It’s comforting to know we’ve got somebody that can come up and play the way he did.”

The Lightning has now lost two of its last three.

"I don’t think our focus was where it needed to be," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "They played a really good game. You saw the emotions they played with, and we didn’t match it. We’ve got two big games coming up here, and I think we need to move towards what we want to be next week. And that means bring in emotions, especially defensively. Giving up four in a playoff game isn’t going to get you anywhere. We need to start there and build.”

Pasquale faced 17 shots in the first period and was under pressure all night.

"I knew they were going to come out — obviously, they’re playing for their lives – I knew they were going to come out kind of firing from everywhere, and that’s what they did," Pasquale said.

Cooper said he wasn't panicking.

“We know how to play the game," Cooper said. "We’ve had a pretty darn good year up to this point. I’m not going to sit here and say this is derailing our year or anything like that. That was a tough back-to-back for us. They were a really desperate team, a playoff-caliber team. We’ve had good battles with them this year. They got the best of us tonight. We got the best of them earlier this year. That’s the way the game goes. It’s tough to win them all. Clearly, we’ve got better than this.”

The Lightning continue their regular season-ending  road trip Thursday night when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.



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