Canadiens Battle Tampa Bay & The Referees

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning renewed their rivalry on Thursday night. 

Joel Armia opened the scoring on a bang-bang play. Alex Newhook and Brendan Gallagher drew the assists on the tally. Then it felt like momentum shifted afterwards.

Nikita Kucherov boarded Kaiden Guhle from behind and he headed to the locker room. No penalty on the play, but Guhle was leaking from his mouth. It’s merely one missed call, which is bound to happen.

But Anthony Cirelli decided to spear Jayden Struble during a scrum in Cayden Primeau’s crease. Certainly, Struble deserved a penalty, but Cirelli wasn’t called for his spear. Steven Stamkos and Alex Newhook also got penalties for roughing, but somehow Montreal ended up shorthanded. 

Tampa scored on the ensuing power play, Nick Paul tucked home a bouncing puck. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov assisted on the tally. Kucherov’s assist was his 131st point of the season, and the Lightning have 12 power-play goals in their last 12 contests. 

The opportunity came off a missed call, that shouldn’t have been anything. Sure, the Canadiens want a good draft pick and every loss helps. But at some point, games need to be called fairly and lost or won the same way. 

The remainder of the period was back and forth for the most part. Until Michael Eyssimont scored a goal to pull ahead. It bounced in off Struble with less than four minutes remaining in the period. 

It’s just awful that a period that wasn’t dominated by one team ends up with one team being down because of poor officiating. 

Second Period

Matt Dumba caught Jake Evans from behind, not quite as violent as Kucherov’s hit on Guhle. But one that definitely should warrant a call. Evans looked to the referee in disbelief, to no avail.

Guhle also didn’t return for the second period, leaving the Canadiens with just five defensemen. 

The news seemed to breathe life into the Canadiens, who came out flying. Brendan Gallagher made a smart play behind the Lightning net, Alex Newhook retrieved it then worked the puck to Armia who evened the game at 2-2.

Stamkos was left wide open in front of the net, and it went exactly how you think it would. 3-2 Tampa, on Stamkos's 33rd of the season. Xhekaj blew his assignment to throw a hit.