(Tampa) The Canadiens got back to some of their good habits, but it wasn’t enough to topple the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brandon Hagel scored three goals in his 200th NHL game, Brian Elliott made 18 saves and the Montreal club lost 5-3 on Saturday night at Amalie Arena.
Martin St-Louis’ squad looked much better than their previous outing, when they suffered a 9-5 loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Canadiens players regained their usual fighting spirit and Samuel Montembeault did well in net. However, the experienced Lightning did what was necessary to prevail.
Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist, while Denis Gurianov and Jesse Ylönen also scored for the Canadiens (27-37-6), who have won just one of their last 10 games (1-7-2) . Nick Suzuki had two assists and Montembeault stopped 36 shots.
Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Lightning (42-22-6), which won a third straight game. Mikhail Sergachev and Nikita Kucherov each had two assists.
Canadian defender Kaiden Guhle has been sidelined with a lower body injury. Chris Wideman replaced him in the lineup.
Forward Jonathan Drouin was in uniform, he who had been excluded from training on Friday after missing a team meeting. However, he spent the entire game benched.
For his part, Josh Anderson took the direction of the locker room midway through the third period, after being hit in the right hand by a shot from Zach Bogosian. Anderson, however, returned to the game with just over three minutes to go.
The Canadiens and the Lightning will meet again on Tuesday at the Bell Centre. Meanwhile, the Lightning host the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
Hoffman scored the game’s first goal 5:12 into the game, taking advantage of a fine cross pass from Suzuki.
The Lightning replied at 11:31, when Hedman advanced down the crease and beat Montembeault on the shield side.
Montembeault made two great saves late in the first half. He first frustrated Ross Colton, forgotten in front of the net. He then stopped a powerful shot from Kucherov from the crease.
The Quebec goalkeeper, however, was helpless at 4: 50 of the second period, when Hagel took advantage of a favorable jump from the boards before threading the needle.
Gurianov tied the game 2-2, hitting the target 1:39 later. The Russian scored on a one-timer throw after a throw-in from Anderson.
The Canadiens took a 3-2 lead with 7:37 to go in the second period. Ylönen scored late on a power play. He unleashed a powerful one-timer after a cross pass from Hoffman.
Montembeault once again closed the door at the end of the period. He stood in front of Stamkos during a Lightning power play.
It was only a postponement for the captain of the Lightning. Stamkos tied the game 3-3 after 3:14 of play in the third period, thanks to a one-timer on the power play.
Stamkos reached the 30-goal mark for the eighth time in 15 NHL seasons.
Hagel then charged again 2:44 later, deflecting a shot from Hedman past Montembeault.
Rem Pitlick is the one who came closest to prolonging the debate, when he deflected a throw-in from Mike Matheson against the post. The Canadian’s last efforts were in vain.
Hagel completed his hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 43.6 seconds left on the clock.