TAMPA, Fla. — The Montreal Canadiens were better and still not good enough to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Carey Price allowed a pair of second-period goals, and despite outshooting the defending champions by a wide margin the Canadiens were unable to generate enough offense to win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.
The 3-1 defeat dropped the Canadiens into a 2-0 series hole, with the action shifting to Montreal for Games 3 and 4.
The Canadiens played well for long stretches in front of Price, who stopped 20 of 23 shots after yielding five goals in a lopsided loss in Game 1.
The Canadiens nonethless have reason to be encouraged after limiting scoring opportunities for Lightning stars Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, who combined for seven points in the series opener but none in Game 2.
Instead, Anthony Cirelli, Blake Coleman and Ondrej Palat had goals for Tampa Bay, which is much deeper offensively than any of the teams the Canadiens shut down en route to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 28 years.
Turnovers led to two Lightning goals, with center Phillip Danault’s miscue leading to Coleman’s goal with less than a second remaining in the second period. Defenseman Joel Edmundson’s soft backhand pass behind the net gave Palat a chance to seal the victory late in the third.
Montreal did a good job of containing Vegas Golden Knights leading scorers Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty in the semifinals. The also slowed Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in the first round and Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers in the second round.
The same recipe didn’t work against Tampa Bay in Game 1, but the Canadiens found their defensive rhythm this time, disrupting passes, winning battles on the boards and playing a far more aggressive game.
Kucherov, the playoff scoring leader, was held to three shots on goal — none after the first period. Point, the postseason goals leader, only got off one shot. Stamkos, who has eight playoff goals this year, was also limited to one shot.