Home Canadian News Hidden Game: Canadiens eliminated from playoffs with loss to Lightning

Hidden Game: Canadiens eliminated from playoffs with loss to Lightning

Hidden Game: Canadiens eliminated from playoffs with loss to Lightning

Lightning 7, Canadiens 4. “It’s not a funeral. It’s a celebration of life,” says Martin St. Louis.

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We dedicate this edition of the Hidden Game to NHL officiating — in particular, referees Peter MacDougall and Ghislain Hébert.

We’re not sure which game they were watching Thursday night, but it couldn’t have been the one they were assigned to, between the Canadiens and Tampa Bay at the Bell Centre.

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Where to begin?

In the game’s fifth minute, Canadiens defenceman Kaiden Guhle was against the end boards with his back to the play. He was hit by Nikita Kucherov, who should have received a boarding minor penalty at the very least. Guhle, who missed four games earlier this season with a concussion, went to the dressing room and didn’t return.

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Let’s also quickly add none of Guhle’s teammates came to his defence to beat the living crap out of Kucherov. But that’s a story for another day.

Later in the opening period, during a goalmouth scrum, Anthony Cirelli speared Jayden Struble. Again, no penalty was assessed. And early in the second period, Lightning defenceman Mathew Dumba hit Jake Evans from behind. Yeah, no penalty.

Where is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman when you need him? On the other hand, he would defend the officiating in his league.

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It was inevitable: With the 7-4 loss, the Canadiens have been eliminated from the playoffs.

News you need (Part I): The Canadiens, who play in the tough Atlantic Division, now have a 5-12-5 record within their division. How far is this team away from making the playoffs? Far.

Strange, but true (Part I): Heading into this game, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was minus-22. And that’s on a good team.

On the other hand: With two goals and an assist, Stamkos now has 34 goals and 71 points in 73 games. Any guy with 34 goals can play on our team — along with Michael Pezzetta — any time, his plus/minus rating be damned.

Strange, but true (Part II): Were legendary NHL head coach Punch Imlach alive today, he might have called Matt Tomkins a Junior B goalie; kids, ask your parents to explain. Tomkins, who started for Tampa Bay, playing its second game in as many nights, is a 29-year-old journeyman added to the roster Tuesday, on an emergency recall. He has spent the majority of this season in the AHL, with Syracuse, and spent the previous two years playing in Sweden.

Tomkins was making his first NHL start since Nov. 7, when he won the first big-league game of his career, against the Canadiens. And now, he has two NHL wins. Go figure.

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Faceoff of the night (Part I): Alex Newhook beat Luke Glendening to the draw, eventually leading to the opening goal of the game, by Joel Armia, who batted a rebound out of midair at 2:37.

Just wondering (Part I): Don’t teams that score a game’s first goal generally win?

Put his face on a milk carton: Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, a darling with Bell Centre spectators last season, now has gone 22 games without a goal and has only one in his last 38.

Just wondering (Part II): Any guesses where Colin White will be playing next season? Certainly not with the Canadiens. Will he even still be in the NHL?

Best javelin shot outside of the Olympics: Late in the opening period, Brendan Gallagher cut in from the side. Tyler Motte was defending and lost his stick, which shot out to the blue line.

News you need (Part II): With his second goal of the game, scored at 4:42 of the middle period, Armia equalled his career high, with 16. And to think he spent two separate stints this season playing for the AHL Laval Rocket.

Tic-tac-toe: Calvin de Haan to Cirelli to Stamkos, resulting in the Lightning’s third goal and proving the puck still moves faster than any player.

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Strong like bull: Mike Matheson had only one hand on his stick when he was assessed a controversial tripping minor against Brayden Point in the second period.

Another bogus penalty: Slightly more than five minutes later, a diving Matheson got all stick. Nonetheless, he was called for tripping Kucherov.

When it rains, it pours: With time winding down in the second, Struble received a double high-sticking minor against Victor Hedman, whose mouth was slightly cut.

Faceoff of the night (Part II): Nick Suzuki beat Glendening, eventually leading to the Canadiens’ third goal, by Juraj Slafkovsky, at 8:40 of the third period.

Pass of the night: Suzuki, behind the Lightning net, to Cole Caufield, making it 6-4 at 11:51 of the same period.

Best off-road collision we’ve seen: Stamkos crashed into Brandon Hagel in the third period. Hagel went to the dressing room after laying on the ice for several minutes.

Next time, decline the penalty: The Canadiens went 0-for-4 on the power-play.

They said it: “That was self-inflicted for sure,” Gallagher said. “We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey. Hopefully that’s not reminiscent of who we are. They’re a good team, but we didn’t really make them earn it. It’s disappointing. I’m proud of the way the guys continued fighting in the third period. That’s a bit of a tougher lesson for us to learn, one you make sure doesn’t happen again.”

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“It’s unfortunate. I thought we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey over a pretty long stretch,” Jordan Harris said. “We have to be better. It’s definitely a little disheartening.”

“It’s not a funeral. It’s a celebration of life,” head coach Martin St. Louis said about missing the playoffs. “And there are a lot of good things to celebrate about this season.”



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