MONTREAL (AP) — Nikita Kucherov didn’t complain about a disallowed goal in the first overtime period. He just went out and scored in the second — and that one shouldn’t have counted, either.
The Tampa Bay forward scored 2:06 into the second overtime — on a play that replays clearly showed was offside — to give the Lightning a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“It’s really frustrating, losing a game on an offside,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. “Those things are not supposed to happen. I thought our players had a great effort tonight. I couldn’t ask for more.
“But to lose a game on an offside, it’s not like a penalty. It’s not a judgment call. It’s black or white. It was clearly offside and we ended up losing the game.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday night at Bell Centre.
The Lightning were outshot 44-35 and got some breaks when Montreal’s David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty hit posts early on behind shaky goalie Ben Bishop.
“It’s nice, but it doesn’t mean much,” Bishop said about the victory. “We just came off a series (against Detroit) where we lost the first game.
“You’ve got to put it in the past pretty quick. It’s nice to win the first game but now we have to forget about it and get ready for the next one.”
Tyler Johnson scored his NHL-leading seventh of the playoffs for Tampa Bay in the third period only to see Pacioretty tie it with 5:13 left in regulation.
Replays showed the Lightning were offside on the play that led to the winner, but it took 12 seconds from then until Kucherov scored, plenty of time to get the puck out of the zone.
But defenseman Greg Pateryn coughed up the puck in a corner and Valtteri Filppula fed Kucherov in the slot for a quick wrist shot past Carey Price.
A call went in Montreal’s favor 2:56 into the first OT when the puck hopped over Jeff Petry’s stick, sending Kucherov in on a breakaway. His shot was stopped and he pushed Price and the puck into the net with his stick. After review, it was disallowed due to preventing the goalie from making the save.
“I’m not going to complain about it,” Kucherov said. “I don’t think about it.”
He made good on it in the second OT.
“Boyle made a good play and Filppula got it through the D’s legs,” Kucherov said. “He put it right in my wheelhouse. I just had to shoot.”
The Lightning owned Montreal in the regular season, winning all five meetings, but the Canadiens, buoyed by a packed Bell Centre, stormed out only to waste their best chances to put Tampa Bay in a hole.
Bishop was clearly nervous, misplaying pucks around the crease, but then was able to settle down. He made the save of the night late in the second period when he stacked the pads and got a glove on Tomas Plekanec’s shot from a short-handed 2 on 1 with Pacioretty.
The Lightning still had pressure after a power play and then got a break when Matt Carle’s shot from the left point deflected off Johnson’s skate past a helpless Price 2:34 into the third.
Pacioretty tied it on a wrist shot off the rush down the left side that Bishop caught, but couldn’t squeeze with his glove. The puck dropped behind him into the net.
“I thought it popped up, then I don’t know if it rolled down my back or what,” Bishop said. “It was kind of right by my ear. I kind of took my eyes off it the last second and that’s what happens.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos appeared to jam a wrist in traffic near the Montreal net in the first period. He stayed in the game, but it will be something to watch for as the series progresses. … Forward J.T. Brown returned to the Lightning lineup, bumping Nikita Nesterov.
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