(Photo: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
Max Pacioretty’s timing was exquisite for his first playoff goal.
With 42.6 seconds left on the clock in regulation time, Pacioretty scored the game-winning goal on the power play as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 at the Bell Centre and swept the first-round series.
“The boys were joking that they didn’t need my goal till the end,” Pacioretty said after the game.
“It’s awesome that everyone pitched in this series,” he said. “My job is to score and I’m not doing that. You see the three other games, tons of players stepped up. Even tonight, tons of players stepped up. It’s nice to have that balanced scoring. I think that’s why we had success.”
The game had tense moments for Habs fans as the Lightning pressed in the third period and tied the score. The Canadiens called a time-out after Tyler Johnson evened the score at 3-3.
“We could smell the next round. We got a little too passive. We were back on our heels,” Pacioretty said.
“They made a great push…but that time-out calmed us down a lot and we got back to our game.”
The Canadiens outshot the Lightning 37-23. All but three Canadiens’ skaters had at least one shot on goal.
“I think it was two fast teams with really good offense that were trying to slow each other down,” said Lars Eller when asked what made the difference in the series.
“I think we did a good job of slowing their offense down and coughing it up in the neutral zone, playing them tight and not giving them much room. I think that most of all was the key to our success,” he said.
“I think we’re really happy with what we’ve accomplished so far,” added Eller, who scored in the first period and picked up his fifth point of the playoffs.
“I think we’re a really humble group and we don’t look too far ahead. And that’s how we got success in this series. We’ve really taken one game at a time and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.”
The Lightning had a tremendous season and battled hard to the end, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said.
He also said a lot of credit goes to his players who stuck to their plan.
“We played against a good hockey team with a lot of speed. And we were able to take away their speed, the way we were playing in the neutral zone, the way we fore-checked. Guys stuck to the game plan and they got rewarded,” Therrien said.
You can watch what Pacioretty had to say here:
You can listen to what Eller had to say here:
(Video: Brenda Branswell)