MONTREAL — Nikita Kucherov scored 2:06 into double overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the opening game of their second round NHL playoff series on Friday night.
Kucherov took a pass in the slot from Valtteri Filppula and fired a wrist shot in on the first shot of the period.
“Boyle made a good play and Filppula got it through the D’s legs. He put it right in my wheelhouse. I just had to shoot,” Kucherov said.
Tyler Johnson scored for Tampa Bay in the third only to see Max Pacioretty tie it and force overtime.
A controversial call three minutes into the first overtime occurred when Kucherov went in on a breakaway. His shot was stopped and he bumped into Carey Price as the puck went into the net, although it appeared Price may have dragged the puck in himself. After review, it was ruled Kucherov interfered with Price.
“I’m not going to complain about it. I don’t think about it,” Kucherov said.
The Lightning still had pressure after a power play and then got a break when Matt Carle’s shot from the left point deflected off Johnson’s skate past a helpless Carey Price 2:34 into the third. It was Johnson’s seventh of the playoffs, tops in the league.
Pacioretty tied it at 14:47 on a wrist shot off the rush down the left side that Ben Bishop caught, but couldn’t squeeze with his glove. The puck dropped behind him into the net. Bishop finished the game by making 43 saves.
“It’s nice but it doesn’t mean much,” Bishop said of the Game 1 win. “You’ve got to put it out of your mind pretty quickly. We have to get ready for the next one.”
The Canadiens wasted a golden chance to get an early lead with Bishop clearly nervous, misplaying pucks around the crease. But David Desharnais and Pacioretty hit goalposts and another chance was ruled no-goal after a video review.
Weathering the early storm looked to settle Bishop down and he made the save of the night late in the second period when he stacked the pads and got a glove on Tomas Plekanec’s shot from a shorthanded 2 on 1 with Pacioretty.
At the other end, Price was at his Hart Trophy nominee best, and he got help during a scramble when Ondrej Palat had an open side but saw his shot go off Jeff Petry’s skate. Price turned aside 33-of-35 shots in the loss.
“We had more than enough chances tonight, but it didn’t go in for us,” Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban said. “There weren’t a lot of things I can look at where we weren’t doing the right things out there. We played the right game today.”
Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk was sent off three times on minors, once for delay of game when a clearing attempt flew over the glass and another when Filppula sold a trip to the officials.
Johnson went off midway through the third period after a cross-check to the back or shoulder from Brendan Gallagher, but returned later. Johnson was penalized for holding on the play.
Bolts captain Steven Stamkos appeared to jam a wrist in traffic near the Montreal net in the first period. He stayed in the game, but it will be something to watch for as the series progresses.
“We’ll be frustrated and upset but we’ll come back to the rink tomorrow and have that attitude of doing what it takes to win the next game,” Pacioretty said. “There were a lot of good things to build off of tonight.”
Notes — The Canadiens asked fans to dress and most did, filling the seats with red, white and blue. . . Montreal made no lineup changes. . . Forward J.T., Brown returned to the Bolts lineup, bumping Nikita Nesterov.