Who played well in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final? Sometimes it’s easy to tell, sometimes it isn’t. NHL.com graded the players in the 3-1 victory by the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Wednesday. The Lightning lead the best-of-7 series 2-0. Here are the players and trends that stood out the most.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning) — Yes, it’s becoming a broken record, but there’s a reason he’s one of the best goalies in the world. Vasilevskiy was outstanding again, making 42 saves. It was his sixth career Stanley Cup Playoff game with at least 40 saves, and he has a 0.80 goals-against average and .969 save percentage during Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak at home.
Blake Coleman (Lightning) — The forward laid out to score a tremendous goal, ultimately the game-winner for a 2-1 lead with 1.1 seconds remaining in the second period. Coleman has scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 20 playoff games.
Nick Suzuki (Canadiens) — The forward had a quiet Game 1 when he had zero shots on goal for the second time in the playoffs (Game 2 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs). He made up for it Wednesday, finishing with a game-high nine shots on goal and scoring a power-play goal 10:36 into the second period to tie the game 1-1. Suzuki was also 6-for-10 (60.0 percent) on face-offs and had two hits in 18:51 of ice time.
Anthony Cirelli (Lightning) — The forward scored on a wrist shot from near the blue line for a 1-0 lead 6:40 into the second period. Cirelli has scored 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 20 playoff games.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Canadiens) — Much like Suzuki, the forward was a lot more noticeable than he was in Game 1, when he didn’t have a shot on goal. Kotkaniemi had four shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot in 15:29 in Game 2.
Early Lightning opportunism (up) — They weren’t creating much on their own through the first two periods, but they capitalized when the chance was there. Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev intercepted Canadiens forward Corey Perry‘s attempted clearing pass in the second, which led to Cirelli’s goal. Forward Barclay Goodrow chipped the puck away from Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot near the blue line to help set up Coleman’s dazzling goal.
Joel Edmundson (down) — The Canadiens defenseman made a bad play at the worst possible time. With Montreal trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Edmundson left the puck behind the net for defenseman Jeff Petry. But Lightning forward Ondrej Palat got there first and scored for a 3-1 lead with 4:18 remaining.
Artturi Lehkonen (up) — The Canadiens forward took a hard hit along the corner boards from Sergachev 10:03 into the second period. Sergachev was called for interference while Lehkonen left for the remainder of the period but returned for the third. He played 11:30 and had three hits.
Carey Price (down) — This is a tough one. In Game 1, the Montreal goalie didn’t give up many clean shots (a redirect, a deflection and an own goal were among those he allowed). In Game 2, he had traffic in front of him on Cirelli’s goal, Coleman’s goal was a tremendous effort and Palat’s goal was off Edmundson’s error. Nevertheless, Price has given up eight goals on 50 shots in the first two games of the Final.
Tyler Johnson (up) — The Lightning forward assisted on Cirelli’s goal, had two hits, was 2-for-4 (50 percent) on face-offs and blocked two shots, including Kotkaniemi’s wrist shot 8:45 into the second period that caused him some pain. Johnson also played on the second line in place of forward Alex Killorn, who was out with an undisclosed injury sustained in Game 1.
What we learned
Canadiens do a lot right but …
There was so much that went well. They had consistent pressure on Vasilevskiy, with 43 shots. They didn’t allow a power-play goal on three opportunities. They scored on one of their three power plays. They held the Lightning to 13 shots through the first two periods. But it didn’t matter. A few miscues were costly.
Lightning are great with an early lead
This clearly wasn’t their best game. Vasilevskiy was their savior through most of it. But when the Lightning get a lead, they’re great at turning it into a win. They’re 14-2 in the playoffs when scoring first. The defending Stanley Cup champions know how to take advantage of opportunities and they’re going into Games 3 and 4 with confidence.