Canadiens Sweep Lightning in Round One

Montreal Canadiens Playoff Tickets

The Montreal Canadiens are the only Canadian team in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  They are also the first team to be moving on.

On Tuesday night the Habs completed a 4-0 sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of an elated crowd that could have blown the roof off the Bell Centre.

Fans had reason to be excited.  It was the team’s first post-season series win since 2010 and the first sweep since the Habs defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the second round of the 1993 playoffs en route to their 24th Stanley Cup.

Credit is due to the Lightning who mounted a late, albeit desperate, surge to keep the series alive when down by 2 goals in the 3rd.   Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson each scored to tie the game before the period was 7 minutes old.

A late call against rookie Cedric Paquette, who went off for tripping, gave the Canadiens a power play at 17:49.  Power forward Max Pacioretty sealed Tampa’s fate with his first goal of the series and just 43 seconds left on the clock.  The final score was 4-3.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Pacioretty after the game. “I knew I had to step up. I’ve been frustrated lately and the only thing that kept me sane was the team winning and other people scoring. When you realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment and that’s what happened.”

In fact, everything went right for the Habs in this series.  From the dazzling pre-game light show to the passionate renditions of the national anthem by Quebec darling Ginette Reno, the Habs absorbed the energy of their surroundings and went to work.

A team much maligned for its 5 on 5 numbers and possession game, the Habs out shot the Bolts in 3 of 4 games (though the margin is close), found balanced scoring from all four lines, despite a still struggling power play, and managed an aggressive two man forecheck that was more than the young Tampa defense could handle.   Players who had been criticized for much of the season, players like Rene Bourque and Lars Eller, became heroes over the course of four games and goaltender Carey Price stood tall after a shaky start.

To cap it off, Daniele Briere, who continued to remind fans why any team would want him in the playoffs, shook Reno’s hand as she left the ice on Tuesday night and scored the opener 2:24 later.

“I guess she gave me a little energy when she walked off the ice and shook my hand,” said Briere. “It worked on the first shift.  Maybe we could get a little seat for her right by the bench so she can touch all the guys.”

It was that kind of series.

The Canadiens now await the winner of the Detroit Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins Series before knowing who and where they will play next.

Montreal Canadiens Playoff Tickets are available HERE.