On Tap For Today — Montreal at Tampa Bay; 8 pm EDT; NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN
Tuesday’s Toe Drags
ASSISTANTS GET KRAKEN: The Kraken announced Tuesday that both Paul McFarland and Jay Leach have been hired as assistant coaches — Leach will serve as a defensive coach, while McFarland will oversee the offense and power play. Just in time for the expansion draft!
POWER MOVE: Projected No. 1 overall pick Owen Power is set to meet with top-pick-holding Buffalo on Thursday, his first interview with the Sabres. Power has previously indicated his desire to return to college next season, but it’s still anyone’s guess.
DEALSVILLE: Predators GM David Poile indicated he traded Viktor Arvidsson to the Kings last week because he figured that’s who Seattle was going to claim in the expansion draft. Poile mentioned the line of communication remains open should Kraken GM Ron Francis get the urge to deal.
GET OVER IT: This year’s postseason is one overtime game short of tying the all-time record for overtimes in a single playoff season (28) — which was set in 1992-93 and then matched in 2019-20. The Cup winners in those two seasons? Montreal and Tampa Bay, respectively. The more you know!
Not only did Josh Anderson give his Montreal Canadiens life with his Game 4 OT winner to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he put himself in some pretty exclusive company. If playoff overtime winners are big, then scoring a sudden death marker in the Stanley Cup Final is absolutely huge — and rather rare.
Over the past 15 postseasons, there have been 18 overtime goals that have decided a Cup Final game. Of those, only three have been series-savers — that is, a goal scored by a team facing elimination.
Let’s take a look at the players who have saved their teams from the brink of elimination with a single goal:
Josh Anderson – Montreal Canadiens 2020-21
Plenty of eyebrows were raised last summer when Habs GM Marc Bergevin committed seven years and $38.5 million to an injury-plagued power forward — who topped out at one goal in 2019-20. Anderson has, however, proven to be worth the investment after a 17-goal campaign in which the 27-year-old set a consistent physical tone and made Montreal tough to play against.
Now, you can add clutch scoring to his list of contributions for the Canadiens. Anderson’s second goal of the night, and fifth of the postseason, spared his club the indignity of losing four straight — but more importantly it offered Montreal a renewed opportunity to get back into the series with the Lightning. If the Habs can achieve the impossible, and come all the way back, Anderson’s diving Game 4 finisher will have been the key turning point.
Corey Perry – Dallas Stars 2019-20
As we head into Game 5 tonight, it’s worth remembering that last year’s Game 5 saw Corey Perry prevent the Lightning from raising the Cup – with a double overtime winner for the Dallas Stars. Just imagine if he turns the trick again, now as a member of the Canadiens, against those same Bolts.
Unfortunately for the Stars, Perry’s heroics would only grant them a one-game reprieve, as Andrei Vasilevskiy stonewalled Dallas for a 2-0 Cup-clinching shutout in Game 6. Still, that knack for coming up big in key moments has helped establish Perry as a proven winner in the hockey world.
Petr Sýkora – Pittsburgh Penguins 2007-08
Although the Pittsburgh Penguins were one year away from winning their first Cup of the Sidney Crosby era, they were doing all they could to make it happen in 2008 against the vaunted Detroit Red Wings. Pittsburgh was actually 35 seconds away from being vanquished in regulation, when Maxime Talbot sent the game to overtime off a pass from a 20-year-old Crosby.
Three overtimes later, it would be Petr Sýkora who would force a Game 6, thanks to a helper from a 22-year-old Evgeni Malkin. Even though Detroit wrapped things up with a 3-2 triumph in Game 6, the Pens had proven their playoff mettle and were well on the way along a path that would see them win three Cups in the ensuing nine seasons.
No, Montreal’s predecessors didn’t use their teams’ OT survival to rally back and win the Cup. But its in moments like these that character is revealed, and these feisty Habs — who now boast a 6-1 OT record this postseason — seem to thrive when pressure is at its greatest.
Players Who Need to Step Up
The question that is on everyone’s mind — and which will be answered tonight at 8pm EDT — is: Can Montreal survive another elimination game. With the fight moving back to Tampa and the Lightning with an opportunity to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup — this time in front of their fans and families — it will come down to which team can capitalize the most on its chances.
To close out or extend the series, the following players’ performance will be key to their team’s success in Game 5.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning need Stamkos to lead by example in order to win their second consecutive Cup. Stamkos scored a power play goal in Game 1 against the Canadiens, but has since been silent in the series. Overall, he has done well this postseason with 18 points — including five power play goals. As a top-six forward and the player with the “C” stitched on his sweater, Stamkos will need to find himself on the scoresheet to help keep the Canadiens at bay.
It was only two weeks ago fans were monitoring Point’s impressive goal-scoring streak. He scored goals in nine straight games before his streak came to an end in Game 7 against the New York Islanders. In the Stanley Cup Final, Point has three assists — all of them coming in Game 1 where he earned the second star of the game — but has surprisingly not found the back of the net. Approaching the Final, Point was presenting a legitimate argument to win the Conn Smythe Trophy — as he put up 23 points in 22 games played this postseason. A big outing in Game 5 could be just the boost he needs to take home the hardware.
The Stanley Cup Final has not been kind to Toffoli. During Game 1 he, along with line mates Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki, had a horrible night as they were on the ice for three goals against. The 29-year-old forward does not have a single point against Tampa and only registered two shots on goal during the Canadiens’ Game 4 victory where he played on the first line. Montreal can only hope to see another game-winning goal from Toffoli tonight in Game 5.
It honestly pains me to call out Price, but he will need to be the best player on the ice tonight — plain and simple. After what can be considered a shaky first few games, fans in Montreal were delighted to see the vintage Price in Game 4. It is difficult to fully blame the veteran goaltender for the situation Montreal finds itself in — but when you examine the goals he has let in, it’s hard to deny his early difficulties against the Lightning. Going into this series we knew Price was going to be a key factor, and — if Montreal wants to crawl their way back to even this series — Price will need to lead the way.