Police officers keep an eye on Montreal Canadiens fans following game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup final between the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning outside the Bell Centre in Montreal, Friday, July 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Montreal police ready as Canadiens, Lightning square off ahead of do-or-die Game 4

Montreal police ready as Canadiens, Lightning square off ahead of do-or-die Game 4

Montreal Canadiens faithful are expected to gather across the city tonight, hoping their team can prolong the Stanley Cup final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning lead the best-of-seven series 3-0 and could clinch back-to-back Stanley Cup wins with a victory tonight in Montreal.

The Canadiens are playing in their first Stanley Cup final since 1993.

Fans will gather at outdoor viewings outside the Olympic Stadium and at the city’s entertainment district, in addition to outside the Bell Centre, where raucous crowds have assembled since the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Public health rules permit a maximum of 3,500 fans inside the arena.

Montreal police Const. Véronique Comtois says police will be noticeably present and reassigned to places where the game is being broadcast or where people are gathering.

“What we want tonight is for people to have their festivities, but we are asking them to respect order and public safety,” Comtois said. “We’re there to make sure everything happens the right way.”

Montreal police would not confirm reports that as many as 2,000 officers will be on the ground tonight, but did confirm that Quebec provincial police have been enlisted as backup.

Comtois says police are advising people to put distance between themselves and any potential disturbances to allow police to target any “problematic elements.”

Police made 15 arrests during a rowdy celebration after the Canadiens’ series-clinching victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in late June. Eight police vehicles were vandalized and at least one was overturned.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press