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Lightning gets off on right foot vs. Montreal

in Apolitical/Sports/Top Headlines by

A hot goalie.

A hotter center.

A slump-breaking forward.

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it added up to just enough for a 2-1 win in double-overrime as the Bolts got off a good start in their second-round playoff against the Montreal Canadiens Friday night.

Tampa Bay stole the home ice advantage against the remarkable Carey Price, eliminating the possibilitly of a second-straight sweep at the hands of Montreal. The Lightning’s own goaltender, Ben Bishop, actually outplayed Price, stopping 43 out of 44 shots. Price has now stopped 74 of the last 75 shots he has faced.

For the Lightning, the victory had to be welcome. Last season, the Lighting also dominated the Canadiens, but in the playoffs, with Bishop injured, Montreal won four straight.

The hero this time was Nikita Kucherov, who had not scored a goal in the opening-round series after getting 29 in the regular season. Kucherov finally ended the post-season torture the Lighing had suffered in Montreal.

In his career, Kucherov had only scored one in nine games. Kucherov had appeared to have scored the winner in the first overtime, but a referee determined he had pushed Price into the net on the play.

This time, however, he slapped a one-timer past Price 126 seconds in the second overtime for the winner.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien cried foul afterward, saying that a Lighting player was “clearly” offsides on the winning goal.

Tyler Johnson had scored his seventh goal of the playoffs earlier. This season, the Lighting outscored Montreal 21-8 during the regular season, and Price – perhaps the favorite to win league MVP – was 0-4-1.

The teams play again Saturday, then come to Tampa for games three and four on Wednesday and Thursday night.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit [email protected]

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