Steven Stamkos pulled off the NHL’s first hat trick this season while the team contributed to the Montreal Canadiens demise Monday night. A 7-1 beating from the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena shattered Montreal’s three game winning streak and helped set the embarrassment.
The Canadiens are currently the league’s hottest team winning their first three since the start of the season. Forward Tomas Plekanec has been Montreal’s best player with four goals and an assist. The Lightning have been putting their lone goaltender on full time play as Ben Bishop currently has a 1-0-1 record with a 1.90 GAA. He wouldn’t see a huge challenge against the Habs on this night.
Bishop handled the Canadiens well off the faceoff, where they took a pair of shots but didn’t strike first. Instead, the Montreal defense was found fighting for possession when then unusual occurred. As the Canadiens cleared the puck into their zone, goaltender Carey Price skated far from the net to try and get the puck nearly handing Tampa the first goal. Unfortunately for Montreal, a scramble for the puck in front went back to team leading scorer Victor Hedman who backhanded the puck high and into the back of the net for his third of the season. It turned into a complete turnaround for the Habs recent success as the Lightning began to run the game in their favor.
On the power play, Tampa made it 2-0 on a Stamkos shot from the stick side net of Price for his first of the season and Montreal’s worst start so far. They regrouped later in the period where off the faceoff in the Tampa zone, the Habs passed around the outside where Jarred Tinordi sent as shot that was deflected by Brendan Gallagher near the crease to cut the margin in half.
The second period saw Montreal working on momentum from Gallagher’s notch to the scoreboard to get back into contention. The Canadiens controlled the pace of the game but couldn’t make a clean shot to the Tampa net and Bishop. The second half is where the game took a turn for the worse for Montreal, and a night to remember for Stamkos. His second goal came on a stretch pass from Hedman where a breakaway gave the veteran center his second of the night. “That guy is white hot right now,” Stamkos said to Sun Sports Reporter Paul Kennedy. “I can’t believe that puck got through everyone but that’s the play he can make and I know it was coming pretty fast so just wanted to make a simple move and beat Carey five hole there.”
The first hat trick of the NHL season occurred on yet another pass play from Hedman as he found Stamkos on the outside sniping the puck past Price for his eighth career hat trick. “I can’t take much credit for putting that one in,” Stamkos said. “I was just trying to get a shot on net and I saw Callahan in front and he had a great screen, he doesn’t get any credit there but he took Carey’s eyes away and it was nice going.”
With the third left to make some kind of comeback, Montreal made a change at net putting Dustin Tokarski in while the team charged at Bishop. Plekanec nearly caught a break when the goalie lost his stick but a recovery contributed to the save. It lit a fire back into Tampa’s hot offense as Ryan Callahan scored on Tokarski beating him around the goal pads for his second of the season. 17 seconds later, saw the Lightning make it 6-1 on Ondrej Palat’s wrist shot. It was all but over as the numbers lopsided with three minutes left in regulation. Tampa outshot Montreal 36-17 while their 16 blocked shots contributed to the Habs ultimate defeat. The scoring wasn’t done from Tampa as a turnover gave rookie Vladislav Namestnikov his first career goal in the league. With a minute left, the Habs suffered one final mistake on a too many men penalty leading to the game’s conclusion.
Tampa took a total of 40 shots to the net and plenty to celebrate on the night as Montreal would leave wondering what could have gone wrong. Bishop had an easy night making 16 saves on the night and still undefeated in regulation. The Lightning prep for tomorrow’s game against the Devils while Montreal prepares for their home opener on Thursday.