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Here’s how things might have looked in Tuesday night’s game between the Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre:
Erik Cole ignited a third-period explosion as the Canadiens defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
Coach Michel Therrien engaged in some serious line-juggling as he double-shifted Cole and cut back on David Desharnais’s ice time.
“Davey was a game-time decision because he wasn’t feeling well and I decided to take some of the pressure off him,” Therrien said. “He’s been playing a lot and we don’t him to get worn down.”
While Desharnais, who came into the game as the team’s leading scorer, picked up an assist on a third-period goal by Brandon Prust, this was Cole’s night. The veteran scored two goals and added two assists as the Canadiens improved to 14-6-1.
Teddy Purcell gave the Lightning a 2-2 tie at 4:34 of the third period, but Cole put the Canadiens ahead five seconds later after Tomas Plekanec won the faceoff.
Cole and Desharnais each had an assist as Prust scored at 7:34 and Cole added his 10thof the season at 18:27.
Former Canadien Mathieu Garon and Carey Price matched big saves in the first period when Montreal outshot Tampa Bay 12-11, but Garon cracked first when P.K. Subban unloaded with a one-timer on a power play at 4:31 of the second period.
“Max (Pacioretty) wound up like he was going to shoot, but then he saw me and I was able to get the shot off before anyone could react,” Subban said.
Benoit Pouliot tied the game at 6:04, but Colby Armstrong gave the Canadiens the lead going into the third period when he scored at 19:22.
“You don’t want to give up a goal in the final minute and that was what I was thinking,” Armstrong said. “But Colesy forced a turnover in the neutral zone and I had a 2-on-1 with (Alexei) Emelin. It was one of those situations where neither one of us seemed anxious to shoot, but the defenceman went to his side and I just had to make sure I controlled the pass and waited for the goalie to move first.”
Price finished with 27 saves, while Garon had 26.
The Canadiens don’t play again until Saturday when the Toronto Maple Leafs are at the Bell Centre. Therrien gave the Canadiens Wednesday off and scheduled a rare afternoon practice Thursday.
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)