Canadiens complete sweep of Tampa in final seconds

Canadiens' Max Pacioretty scores the game-winner late in Game 4 to complete the sweep Tuesday night...

Canadiens' Max Pacioretty scores the game-winner late in Game 4 to complete the sweep Tuesday night in Montreal. (QMI Agency)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:52 PM ET

MONTREAL - Call it diva intervention.

One of the things that has made the two Montreal Canadiens playoff games at the Bell Centre so spectacular this spring has been the choice to have legendary Quebecois chanteuse Ginette Reno belt out O Canada. The 67-year-old drew an ovation almost as loud as that for Canadiens goaltender Carey Price when she appeared in a red coat over a Canadiens sweater before the Canadiens crazy 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night, completing a Montreal sweep of their opening round playoff series.

The Canadiens await the winner of the Boston Bruins-Detroit Red Wings series for the second round.

Reno, who got the OK from her cardiologist to pour her heart into the anthem, knows how to work it, too, standing there for a few moments to let the crowd’s thunder wash down from above.

When she finished up, she turned and looked towards the Canadiens bench and shook hands with Habs veteran Daniel Briere.

Briere, apparently anointed, then went out and scored the opening goal just two minutes and 24 seconds into the game, another crushing start for the Lightning and a foreshadowing of another wild night in which the Canadiens got the breaks.

“It was so loud,” said Briere. “I mean everybody was pumped up in the building, (including) us on the bench. I guess she gave me a little bit of energy when she walked off the ice and shook my hand. It worked on the first shift.

“Maybe we can get a little seat for her right by the bench. She can touch all the guys.”

They might not have the famous ghosts that haunted the rafters along with the Stanley Cup banners at the old Forum, but maybe having Reno around, the Habs are onto something here.

How else do you explain the referee duo of Chris Lee and Francois St. Laurent putting their whistles away in the third period and then calling Tampa’s Cederic Paquette for a tripping penalty with two minutes and 11 seconds left in the third period of a tied game?

Paquette had been wrestling with Montreal’s Michael Bournival when the puck came to them. Bournival started to pull away and was tripped.

Max Pacioretty then sealed the series with 42.6 seconds left, slipping the puck under Tampa goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis after he had made a stop on a Tomas Vanek shot. After a 39-goal regular-season, it was Pacioretty’s first goal of the playoffs.

“That’s how it goes with every goal scorer,” said Pacioretty, “when you’re in a bit of a slump, you’re looking for a bounce and that was my bounce.”

The officiating – especially in the two games here in Montreal – is going to be chewed over for a while. Francis Charron made a 50-50 call to disallow what would have been a go-ahead goal for the Lightning in Game 3 on a sketchy goaltender interference penalty. It was a critical point in the series. Then there was the call on Paquette.

“They were tangled up and their guy was kind of holding our guy down and he gives him a little ... was it a trip? Yeah, probably,” said Tampa coach Jon Cooper. “The way things were going, like you said, you don’t expect that to be called, so it’s tough. You learn from those situations. You never know what’s going to be called. It’s a tough way to lose a game.

“It’s really unfortunate it had to come down to a call with two minutes left in a game like that.”

The Lightning, which had a dozen players make their playoff debuts, had a little too much of the deer in the headlights look for the first eight or nine periods of the series. By that time, it was too late.

They rallied from a 3-1 deficit Tuesday, which showed something.

“If we were going to go down, we were going to go down swinging and we went down swinging,” said Cooper.

Tampa defenceman Victor Hedman fired a shot off the back of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price at 3:29 of the third and Tampa’s Tyler Johnson tied it at 6:31 in one of the rare episodes where the Habs got running around their own zone. A pass in front went off the stick of Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban and Johnson, standing beside him, snapped home the loose puck to Price’s glove side.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien called his timeout at that point and it seemed to settle his team down.

“It was great timing. We could smell the next round and we got a little passive,” said Pacioretty. “We were back on our heels. They made a great push. They had nothing to lose and played some great hockey. That timeout calmed us down a lot.”

When it was done, Cooper waxed philosophic about playoff hockey, how the bounces always belong to the victors.

“How often does Steven Stamkos come down and he’s got the open net and his stick breaks? You just sit there and say, ‘this has got to end at some point.’ But it didn’t.

“A break is a penalty and they got that penalty. Give them credit. They capitalized on it.”

Breaks, bounces or penalties.

Maybe it was Diva Intervention.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson

 


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