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Lighnting off to Round 2 Written by Laci Bloomers - May 18th, 2009

TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA
May 18, 2009

The Montreal Canadiens gave the Tampa Bay Lightning all they could in the opening round of the 2009 post season.  The Canadiens knew it would be tough coming into the series with sniper Jason Arnott on the shelf, and in the end they were right.

The Lightning set the tone in the opening game when center Bobby Holik pummelled Rusty Klesla in a bout. 

While the Lightning dropped the opener 4-3 in overtime, the team's nasty side played a role in the rest of the series as the club won the next four games.

The Bolts won the split they wanted in Montreal, taking Game 2 by a 3-1 count as Holik, Daymond Langkow and Jeff Friesen scored after the Canadiens took an early lead in the game.  Series tied 1-1 coming home to Tampa.

Games 3 and 4 back in Tampa Bay were colossal battles.  Like Game 1 of the series, both games in Florida went to overtime before a winner was decided.  In fact, Game 3 turned out to be the longest game in CMHL history as the Lightning prevailed 4-3 in the 3rd overtime period. 

Patrik Elias scored a pair of first period goals for Montreal in Game 3, with Mike Knuble replying in the opening 20 for Tampa Bay.  A Dean MacAmmond goal in the third period gave the visiting Canadiens a 3-1 lead and it looked as if they would steal home ice advantage back with just over six minutes remaining in regulation time.  The visitors learned that this Lightning team has no quit in them, however, as just twenty-six seconds later Friesen scored to make it 3-2 with 6 minutes left.

Cue Alex Radulov.

Radulov, who underacheived badly during the season and is guaranteed to be moved once the playoffs end, scored the game-tying goal with less than 2 minutes remaining.  Then, in the third overtime period, he ended the longest game in league history.

Game 4 was more of the same for the Bolts, as they stole another game in overtime.  Martin Brodeur showed no sign of being tired from his Game 3 marathon, stipping all but one of the 31 shots Montreal desperately fired his way in the 2-1 OT victory.  Denis Gauthier opened the scoring in the first period, and in this game it was Montreal tying it late to force overtime, as Dean MacAmmond lit up the light with about 7 minutes remaining in regulation time.  Unfazed, Lighting captain Rod "the bod" Brind'Amour made sure this one didn't last all night, scoring the game winner on the first shot in overtime.

The overtime losses in Tampa Bay proved to be too much for the Canadiens as they fell behind by a pair of goals in the opening period and lost Game 5 by a 4-2 count.  Alex Tanguay scored just 17 seconds into the game for Tampa, and Brind'Amour made it 2-0 at 5:52.  You could almost hear the air rush out of the building in Montreal, and even a goal by Joffrey Lupul not long after to cut the lead to 2-1 did not help.  Langkow would score before the period was over and the visiting Lightning led 3-1 after 20 minutes.  Holik and Martin Gelinas scored in the final frame as the Bolts put the series away.

Radulov and Brind'Amour led the way with 3 goals each, while Brad Larsen pitched in with 5 helpers.  Friesen has 7 points to lead the club in scoring through Round 1, one ahead of Holik. 

Brodeur was brilliant as well, stopping 93% of the 158 shots he faced, finishing with a 1.83 goals against average.  He was the difference in the pivotal Game 4 win for the club.

Next, Round 2 awaits as the club waits to see who their next opponents will be.

- Laci Bloomers reporting -

 

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