The Montreal Canadiens will try to take a commanding lead in their Eastern Conference first round series when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 on Friday night.
The Canadiens won the opening tilt of the best-of-seven series on Wednesday, claiming a 5-4 victory on Dale Weise's overtime tally. It's not surprising the game went beyond regulation considering the Atlantic Division foes saw three of their five regular-season meetings in 2013-14 enter OT.
After dropping a wild one in the opener, the Lightning hope to even this set before it shifts to Montreal for Games 3 and 4. The third meeting is set for Sunday at the Bell Centre with Game 4 scheduled for Tuesday.
Weise tallied with 1:52 remaining in overtime to give his club a leg up on Tampa in the series. An in-season trade acquisition for Montreal, Weise scored off a pretty backhand feed from linemate Daniel Briere to end the entertaining contest. The wrister from just below the right circle beat a hapless Anders Lindback on his stick side after Briere successfully held off Tampa Bay defenseman Eric Brewer behind the net to deliver a perfect pass.
The goal marked the first postseason point for Weise, who was held off the scoresheet in each of his previous six playoff games with the Vancouver Canucks. Briere, meanwhile, notched his 110th career playoff point in his 109th game with the assist.
"It's not an easy thing, the roller coaster of emotion you're going to feel in playoff games," Briere said. "That's part of the experience factor, knowing to stay composed and stay focused"
Brian Gionta and Lars Eller picked up a goal and assist each for the Canadiens, while Tomas Plekanec and Thomas Vanek also lit the lamp for the third-place team in the Atlantic Division.
Carey Price earned the Game 1 victory despite stopping just 21-of-25 shots.
"It's nice to come in and get one here but it's still a long series and they have a great team," said Gionta. "It was back-and-forth and it'll be no different the next game."
Lightning star Steven Stamkos scored twice, including the game-tying goal with just over 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn also produced goals in the setback.
Subbing for the injured Ben Bishop, Lindback's first career NHL playoff start went well despite the loss, as the rangy Swede came up with 39 saves.
"We didn't get the win so it's tough to find positives," said Stamkos. "Five goals against is way too many in the playoffs. Hopefully now everyone has a taste of playoff hockey, they know what it's all about."
Lindback will be back in net on Friday for his second career playoff start. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said he is hopeful Bishop could return in this series, but can only see that happening if it extends past four games.
Tampa could be without Ondrej Palat, who left Game 1 in the third period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Palat has 23 goals and 36 assists in 81 games as a rookie this season and is one of the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy. On Thursday, Cooper said Palat will be a game-time decision for tonight.
This is the second time the Canadiens and Lightning are meeting in the postseason, with the Tampa sweeping Montreal in four games in the Eastern Conference semifinals during its 2004 Stanley Cup championship season.
Projected Canadiens Lines
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Vanek
Prust - Plekanec - Gallagher
Bourque - Eller - Gionta
Bournival - Brière - Weise
Markov - Emelin
Gorges - Subban
Bouillon - Weaver
Projected Lightning Lines
Killorn - Stamkos - Johnson
Panik - Filppula - Callahan
Brown - Thompson - Purcell
Pyatt - Paquette - Kucherov
Hedman - Salo
Carle - Gudas
Brewer - Kostka