Last night's top game in my opinion was the Montreal Canadiens at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa is fighting with everything it has to make that final playoff berth in the east while Montreal has an extremely slight chance of coming up from the 15th and last spot in the east to the playoff tier. What easily could have been a good old fashioned spanking by Tampa was ousted by the skill and ability of Carey Price. He held the Lightning in check for most of the game stopping 19 of 21 shots but Montreal just couldn't score on Mathieu Garon, who earned his 21st game of the year after stopping 18 of 19 shots.
At 8:42 of the first period, the Lightning struck first by guess who? Steven Stamkos. Breaking down the wing, Stamkos gets a lucky break off the stick of teammate Teddy Purcell and makes no mistake about it giving him his league best 44th goal of the year. He is white hot scoring 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points in his last 7 games played. "We're just believing." said Stamkos after the game when asked what is going on for the team after the trades that have been made. A real team leader down in Tampa in Stamkos.
Almost 8 minutes after Stamkos' goal, David Desharnais scored his 13th goal of the year on a wicker wrister off of a turnover in the offensive zone by Tampa. Desharnais leads all Montreal players in points with 47 points on the year. Desharnais is an undrafted free agent out of the QMJHL who is proving himself a very good example of how some low risk opportunities can pay off huge. Not very many people saw this amount of production out of this kid seeing as how 210 players were drafted in 2007 and he was not one of them.
At 00:28 in the second period, grinder Adam Hall broke through Garon's wall for Tampa's second goal, which would eventually turn into the game winner. A broken play by Montreal led to a breakout pass to Ryan Malone who shows incredible patience and waits for a lane to set up Hall all alone in front. All Hall had to do was bat the puck top shelf and that's your game winner.
Tampa Bay solidified last night that they are for real and last year's playoff run was not a fluke. They will make it into the playoffs this season and be a dangerous team without question. Garon is giving them a shining light in net while Stamkos' play along with Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis is powering their offense. Not a very shabby defense corps either with Victor Hedman anchoring guys like Eric Brewer, Bruno Gervais, and Mike Commodore.