The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t finished second in many games this year.
Thursday night, however, the Montreal Canadiens were just a tad better.
The Lightning fell to 5-2 on the year in a 3-1 loss to Montreal, which improved to 7-0-1. The Canadiens scored three times in the third period to pull out the game.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on Alex Killorn’s sixth goal, but Montreal came back with an even-strength goal (by Alex Galchenyuk), a power-play goal (by Max Pacioretty) and an empty-netter (by Torrey Mitchell) to win.
“It was tough,” Killorn said. “I think it was similar to a playoff atmosphere. Two good teams, it was tight checking, weren’t a lot of opportunities. We knew that coming in. We wanted to be patient. We get that lead, I thought we could have played a little bit better with that lead. Not that we didn’t play well in the third, but they were pretty opportunistic on that power play and they had a good period. They were just a little bit better in the third.”
Carey Price stopped 30 of 31 shots for Montreal. Ben Bishop stopped 23 of 25.
“It was a pretty even game,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “In the end, special teams; they got the power-play goal, and we didn’t. We had that kind of four-minute stretch there when we had one decent look. It comes down to two good teams playing. Chances were probably even, shots were close. It was a tight-checking game, and it came down to special teams and they got the better of us.
“You need to get almost perfect shots to go in, and they just had one more than us.”
The Lightning now travels to New Jersey to play the Devils on Saturday night. They play the New York Rangers Sunday.