MONTREAL (AP) — Devante Smith-Pelly and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau found the openings they needed to help keep the Montreal Canadiens’ playoff hopes alive.
Smith-Pelly got Montreal started and Parenteau scored the winner with 4:07 left in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Both scored for the first time in the playoffs this season.
“I hope they showed the replay of the bench, the boys were so fired up,” forward Max Pacioretty said. “P.A.’s had a lot of chances, especially of late, so to see him get rewarded was great.
“He’s an important part of this team. Happy to see him get that break, and same for Devo. It was a great shot. Opened up the scoring. Broke the ice. It shows that anyone on this team can step up.”
P.K. Subban slipped the puck to Parenteau for a long shot over goalie Ben Bishop’s glove.
Montreal has won two straight to cut Tampa Bay’s series lead to 3-2. Game 6 is Tuesday night in Florida.
“We don’t want this thing to end,” Parenteau said. “We worked hard for each other and we got rewarded. We win two games and hopefully it’s not over.”
The Canadiens are trying to become the fifth team in NHL history to rebound from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, a feat last accomplished last season by Los Angeles.
“There’s pressure for them knowing it could be the last game of the year,” Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos said. “We’re coming in to our home rink where we’ve played very well. We have to go prove that last home game we played was unacceptable and I believe we’ll do that. Our fans deserve for us to win a game in front of them.”
Smith-Pelley opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, and Stamkos tied it at 9:27 of the third.
“We were confident after Game 3,” Smith-Pelly said. “It was a heart-breaker, but we played the right way. As long as we keep that attitude and keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be all right.”
Carey Price made 24 saves for the Canadiens, and Bishop stopped 27 shots for the Lightning.
“We didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” Bishop said. “We turned it on in the third, but it was a little too late. A couple of days off will be nice.”
Smith-Pelly got Montreal on the board 9:03 into the game on an off-wing wrist shot to the top corner that went in and out so quickly it needed video review.
“It seemed to give everyone a shot of adrenaline,” Smith-Pelly said. “After that goal everyone was into it, the crowd was into it. It felt good.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper credited Smith-Pelly and Parenteau.
“Those were two great shots,” Cooper said. “Smith-Pelly puts it under that bar. Parenteau’s was an on-and-off the stick and right under the bar, too. Three goals were scored tonight and the goalies didn’t have a chance on all three of them. That’s pretty much how it’s going go to beat these guys.”
Since the start of the series the Canadiens have hit an astonishing number of posts and crossbars, so many that Subban said this week that Bishop was “sitting on a horseshoe.” Subban, Parenteau and Jeff Petry all struck the iron in the second period.
Cooper shook up his units, moving Stamkos from center to right wing with Valtteri Filppula up the middle, and it worked.
Tampa Bay made its push in the third. Moments after Price robbed Filppula from the doorstep with a glove save, Anton Stralman’s blast got through traffic and Stamkos was there to slam it in.
Notes: Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu, injured in the first round, returned after missing seven games. Greg Pateryn was scratched. . . The Lightning scratched Vladislav Namestnikov and went with seven defensemen. Brenden Morrow returned, bumping Jonathan Drouin.
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