Benoit Pouliot was called for holding late, giving Montreal’s power play another chance. They didn’t waste it, with Brian Gionta scoring the game-winner late in regulation. Pouliot wasn’t the only culprit though, as goaltender Ben Bishop seemed out of position at times and Ryan Malone had a horrible giveaway that ended up in the back of the net. This marked Tampa Bay’s seventh defeat in eight games and, thanks to Winnipeg’s win over Carolina, mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention.
This was difficult to take since the Lightning played close to an A+ game in terms of effort, but could not get the result they deserved. Of course, playing without top defensemen Sami Salo for much of the final two periods likely didn’t help.
The Lightning played their best first period in what seemed like forever, peppering Habs netminder Carey Price. While good, he received some help considering four of Tampa Bay’s 10 shots hit either the post or crossbar before bouncing out. If those had gone in, the team might be heading home with just a sliver of hope.
With a postseason spot completely gone, the Lightning can erase some of the bad taste this season’s sure to leave by giving it their all these last four games. An effort like last nights, minus the mistakes of course, would go a long way toward accomplishing that.
Either way, the Lightning head home for two games beginning Sunday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Game time is 6 p.m. Being their 20th Anniversary season, Tampa Bay’s got plenty to play for and celebrate.