The Lightning are one win away from their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.
After eking out a win in Game 2, which saw the Canadiens outplay Tampa Bay for the majority of the contest, the Floridians traveled to Montreal and dominated Game 3 in notching a 6-3 victory.
“At the end of the day, we’re not there yet,” Victor Hedman said regarding winning the Cup. “We need to win one more game. We put ourselves in good position, obviously. Fourth one is the toughest one to get. We’ve got to do whatever it takes to win the next game. … We’ve got more work to do.”
Tampa Bay got on the board less than two minutes into the game with a Jan Rutta goal. Two minutes and 35 seconds later, Hedman widened the gap.
“We made too many mistakes and they can make you pay cash on those mistakes,” said Dominique Ducharme, who was behind the Canadiens’ bench for the first time since Game 2 of the semifinals against Vegas following a positive COVID-19 test. “We’re aware of it. We just have to execute better.”
Key defensive forward Phillip Danault, who does everything but score, scored his first of the playoffs for Montreal to cut the lead to 2-1.
Then, less than two minutes into the middle frame, the Lightning added a goal by Nikita Kucherov before needing just one minute and 53 seconds more to go up 4-1 on a goal by Tyler Johnson.
“It’s awesome anytime you can help the team contribute,” said Johnson, who added another tally in the third period. “We’re obviously one win away now, so that’s all we’re really focused on and we’re working together as a team on it and we’re trying to create something special.”
Blake Coleman added an empty-netter for the Lightning and Nick Suzuki and Corey Perry scored for the Canadiens, who are now in a big hole. Down 3-0, they’ll try to do something that has only been done once before in the final, by the 1942 Maple Leafs.
“We have to play one shift at a time, one game at a time, and roll up our sleeves,” said Danault. “We didn’t quit the whole year, no matter what was being said. When it was 3-1, Toronto, we didn’t quit. And I can guarantee that nobody on the team is going to quit now.”
Game 4 is scheduled for Monday, July 5, at Bell Centre.
Sporting News had all the action as the Lightning won Game 3 and moved closer to a repeat (all times Eastern).
Canadiens vs. Lightning live score, highlights from Game 3
Third period: Lightning 6, Canadiens 3
10:50 p.m. — EN GOAL. Blake Coleman. Tampa Bay leads 6-3.
10:49 p.m. — Carey Price on the bench with 3:30 left.
10:47 p.m. — Ben Chiarot gets the puck and has a great shot but Vasilevsky appears to smother it between his arm and his body.
10:45 p.m. GOAL. Corey Perry with a fantastic patience and an even better shot from the right circle that goes over the shoulder of Vasilevskiy. T ampa Bay leads 5-3.
10:45 p.m. — Carey Price pulled with 4:11 left.
10:44 p.m. — GOAL. Tampa Bay’s fourth line is getting it done as Johnson follows his shot and buries the rebound. Tampa Bay leads 5-2.
10:33 p.m. — Vasilevskiy with a big stop between two Canadiens on the doorstep.
10:27 p.m. — Corey Perry gets the puck in the high slot but fans on it.
10:21 p.m. — Pat Maroon rings one off the pipe.
10:17 p.m. — Final period begins.
Second period: Lightning 4, Canadiens 2
10:00 p.m. — Period comes to an end.
9:57 p.m. — Caufield with a chance but he fans on the one-timer.
9:55 p.m. — GOAL. Nick Suzuki skates the puck up the right wing from his own end and sneaks the shot under the pad of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Tampa Bay leads 4-2.
9:35 p.m. — Canadiens could probably use a timeout to settle things down but they already used it when the Lightning went up 2-0.
9:34 p.m. — Another odd-man rush for the Lightning. This one they don’t score on.
9:28 p.m. — GOAL. On a 2-on-1, Mathieu Joseph’s shot rebounds off his skate right to Tyler Johnson who buries it. Tampa Bay leads 4-1.
9:25 p.m. — GOAL . Bad change by the Canadiens gives the Lightning a 2-0 where Ondrej Palat sends the puck over to Nikita Kucherov for the goal. Tampa Bay leads 3-1.
9:24 p.m. — Middle frame begins.
9:22 p.m — Cool stat alert: Victor Hedman is now the only NHL player to score in every month.
First period: Lightning 2, Canadiens 1
9:05 p.m. — Period comes to an end.
9:02 p.m. — Coleman is shown back on the bench.
9:01 p.m. — Mikhail Sergachev takes a penalty.
8:49 p.m — GOAL. Phillip Danault scores! The top defensive forward finally gets his first goal of the postseason as he goes post and in. Tampa Bay leads 2-1.
8:39 p.m. — Cole Caufield hits the post.
8:34 p.m. — Coleman down on the ice for a long, skates off on his own but goes to the locker room.
8:32 p.m. — Blake Coleman misses the check on Joel Edmundson and goes flying into the boards and is down on the ice. It looks like he hits his head on the boards.
8:31 p.m. — PP GOAL. Victor Hedman from the middle of the ice fires the slapshot that Carey Price gets a piece of, but not enough. Tampa Bay leads 2-0.
8:30 p.m. — Eric Staal sends the puck over the glass.
8:28 p.m. — GOAL. Jan Rutta throws the puck on net and the seeing-eye shot sneaks in top shelf in the corner. Tampa Bay leads 1-0.
8:25 p.m. — First whistle and first pleasantries of the game.
8:23 p.m. — Puck has been dropped. Game on.
8:20 p.m. — Introductions.
Massive ovation for Dominique Ducharme from the 3500 fans inside the Bell Centre in his first game back following the positive COVID-19 test.
— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) July 3, 2021
Sergachev with the smirk after hearing the Bell Centre crowd boo him. Playing the heel well.
— David Alter (@dalter) July 3, 2021
7:54 p.m. — Maroon trying to stir up some action.
Pat Maroon spent just about the entire second half of warmup skating up and down the red line, just looking for some good conversation. No takers.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) July 2, 2021
7:26 p.m. — The Crowd is read in Montreal.
Stanley Cup 2021: Latest news