The Montreal Canadiens won the first three playoff rounds as series underdogs by winning at least one of the first two games on the road.
But the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning handed the Canadiens their first 2-0 series deficit of the 2021 postseason after pulling off a 3-1 victory Wednesday in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Though the Canadiens outplayed the Lightning for much of the game, Vezina Trophy runner-up Andrei Vasilevskiy made 42 saves and made Blake Coleman’s buzzer-beating goal in the second period stand up.
Ondrej Palat scored in the third period off a Montreal giveaway for the final margin.
The series will switch to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Monday, with Tampa Bay needing two more wins to become the NHL’s first repeat champion since the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins.
A look at Game 2:
Everything about Coleman’s second-period goal was great.
First Barclay Goodrow knocked a loose puck past Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and raced into the zone. As Montreal’s Shea Weber went to him, he fed a diving Coleman, who knocked the puck past Carey Price.
The time left on the clock: 0.3 seconds.
“I wasn’t sure how much time was left,” Coleman told NBCSN. “Great play by (Goodrow). Just a little area pass to give me a chance and I did everything I could to get it on net.”
The goal was Coleman’s first since Game 1 of the first round, ending an 18-game drought.
Lightning score first again
The Canadiens had been playing tight defense against the high-powered Lightning and held them without a shot for about 15 minutes.
But Tampa Bay went up 1-0 on Anthony Cirelli’s seeing-eye shot past Price at 6:40 of the second period.
The Lightning have scored the game’s first goal 16 times in the playoffs, including both games of the Final. Their record when scoring first: 14-2.
Canadiens’ top line plays better
The Tyler Toffoli-Nick Suzuki-Cole Caufield line struggled during Game 1, going minus-9 with three shots.
But the players redeemed themselves in Game 2, giving the Canadiens hope at home as they can get the matchups they want.
Suzuki was particularly impressive as his eight shots through two periods was just five fewer than the Lightning had during that time. He finished with nine shots and his line had 14.
He also got the Canadiens on the scoreboard on the power play with a long backhander that eluded Vasilevskiy.
The goal, which tied the game 1-1, was the sixth of the postseason for Suzuki.
Tampa Bay forward Alex Killorn sat out Game 2 after blocking a shot in the opener. Mathieu Joseph joined the lineup and played on the fourth line, allowing Tyler Johnson to move up to Killorn’s spot on the second line. Johnson drew an assist on Cirelli’s goal.
Montreal’s Joel Armia returned after missing Game 1. Jake Evans was scratched. Brendan Gallagher played after missing the end of Game 1 with a bloodied face.
Series heads to Montreal
The Canadiens are scheduled to have coach Dominique Ducharme back after he finishes his isolation period for testing positive for COVID-19. The Canadiens’ first Stanley Cup Final home game since 1993 won’t have a full house, though. Quebec health officials are continuing to hold attendance at the Bell Centre to 3,500 fans. The team had asked for 10,500 but was denied.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lightning take 2-0 lead on Canadiens in Stanley Cup Finals