Montreal keeps series alive by beating Bolts

by Gary Shelton on July 6, 2021

in general

McDonagh's pass could have won it for Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Blame the posts.

Blame the power play.

Blame desperation, which the Montreal Canadiens had buckets filled with.

Blame missed opportunities, and blame Montreal goaltender Carey Price, and blame the bounce of the puck. For whatever reason, the Canadiens live to fight another day. Montreal staved off elimination the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night, beating the Tampa Bay Lighting 3-2 in overtime.

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Montreal won its first game of the series (it trails 3-1) when Josh Anderson scored his second goal of the game in overtime.

Twice, the Bolts came from behind to tie the game (on goals by Barkley Goodrow and Pat Maroon), but despite 34 shots, the Bolts were unable to take over the game. Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov all hit goal posts.

So what did the Bolts do differently from their earlier games?

"Probably not hit as many posts as we’ve hit," Cooper said. "The puck has been going in for us, and tonight, it didn’t. Do i think we generated enough chances to score? I did. And they didn’t go in. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes you play pretty good, and it’s a break here or a break there that goes your way.

"You have to keep fighting. In the end, they got a break and we couldn’t find the back of the net. No hanging our heads. I liked. a lot of things we did tonight."

Say what you will, because the odds are still huge in favor of the Bolts. To deny them the Cup, Montreal would have to win three straight games. Still, a flicker of life beats the alternative, as they say.

In the closing minutes, Ryan McDonagh found Kucherov camped by the goal. But with an open net, he hit the post.

“I think i had a little jump in my step there," Cooper said. "It was a heck of a play by both guys. Another one of those posts. I thought we were pushing. We had chances to end that sucker in regulation. Sometimes you can play well and like your game and you don’t win.

"We’ll have to fight our way through. We can’t hang our hat we’re going home. We’ve had a chance to knock teams out and it’s why you go up in series so you can give yourself many chances to knock a team out."

Cooper scoffed at the idea of losing so it could win on home ice in front of its fans.

"The fan base would have loved if we would have come home with the Stanley Cup," Cooper said. "It’s icing on the cake if you can do it at home. You have ample time to celebrate with the fans."

The Bolts try again to close out the series on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.

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