Apr 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EST
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If you look at sports from a purely narrative standpoint, the goal that eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning fit into the story perfectly.
Capping off a season full of adversity and tough breaks for the Bolts, the Montreal Canadiens received a highly questionable power play with a little more than two minutes left, and Max Pacioretty scored the deciding goal that clinched a first-round sweep.
Though luck haunted the Lightning during a season full of nightmarish breaks, but it all became too much in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Games 3 and 4 really spotlighted this series of tough times, as there was almost a “What will happen next?” feel — from a goal being disallowed and Steven Stamkos getting banged up in Game 3, to a gut-punch loss in Game 4.
With no Ben Bishop in the entire series and a struggling Anders Lindback pulled in the second period of tonight’s affair, Kristers Gudlevskis played masterfully and the Lightning showed resilience in storming back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it up in the third period. Officials decided not to call Rene Bourque for what many believed was a clear goalie interference call, setting the stage for Cedric Paquette‘s third-period penalty and that game-clincher.
That said, it’s unfair to rob the Canadiens credit for sweeping the Lightning. They generally and sometimes glaringly out-played the Bolts for large portions of this series. The bottom line is that Montreal performed at a higher level through significant chunks of this sweep and deserved it (maybe in four games).
Still, the Lightning probably wrestle with gnawing “What if?” questions about their goalies, officiating and injuries.
The bottom line is that they’ll have a long offseason for soul-searching, as they are the first playoff team to be eliminated in 2014. On the bright side, it seems that there are also bright sides to look on:
- Video: Team Foligno survives shootout, wins Skills Competition 2
- Video: Weber wins hardest shot with 108.5 mph blast 4
- Video: Lightning’s Drouin wins fastest skater 7
- WATCH LIVE: NHL All-Star Skills Competition 1
- Will the Youngstars even have a chance? (Updated) 12
- Unique World Cup format allows ‘more of the very best players’ to participate 10
- NHL unveils 2016 Winter Classic, Stadium Series games 17
- Players have fun, show off personalities in water-fueled All-Star Fantasy Draft 9
- Video: ‘Coachable’ Kessel goes from last pick to 2nd overall 5
- Video: Team Foligno takes Ryan Johansen first overall in All-Star Fantasy Draft 1
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Metro sensational: Rangers continue dominance of division, Pens (61)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)