Apr 22, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
For more entries in this series, click here.
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:
- ‘Almost like a game seven tonight’ for Bruins, Panthers 5
- Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack 43
- How bad are things for the Kings after Monday? 18
- Lightning clinch playoff berth, but did they lose Hedman? 9
- Blackhawks tease good injury news for Kane 8
- Tough times in Tampa: Garrison out 3-4 weeks after ‘pretty dirty’ Abdelkader hit 22
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- NHL on NBCSN: Stakes high for Kings, ‘Hawks tonight 21
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 12
- Video: Brian Engblom takes a puck to the head 13