The Canadian found some of his good habits, but it wasn’t enough to bring down the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Brandon Hagel scored three goals in his 200th NHL game, Brian Elliott made 18 saves as the Montreal club lost 5-3 on Saturday night at Amalie Arena.
The Martin St. Louis looked much better than the previous game, when they suffered a 9-5 loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Canadiens players regained their usual fighting spirit and Samuel Montembeault went well into the net. However, the experienced Lightning did what was necessary to win.
Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist, while Denis Gurianov and Jesse Ylönen also scored for the Canadian (27-37-6), who has won just one of his last 10 games (1-7-2). Nick Suzuki had two assists and Montembeault stopped 36 shots.
Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Lightning (42-22-6), who won their third consecutive game. Mikhail Sergachev and Nikita Kucherov each had two assists.
Canadian fullback Kaiden Guhle was sidelined with a lower body injury. Chris Wideman replaced him in the lineup.
Striker Jonathan Drouin was in uniform, who had been ruled out of training on Friday after missing a team meeting. However, he spent the entire game on the bench.
In turn, Josh Anderson took over the direction of the locker room midway through the third period after being hit in the right hand by a kick from Zach Bogosian. Anderson, however, returned to the game with just over three minutes to go.
The Canadiens and Lightning will meet again on Tuesday at the Bell Centre. Meanwhile, the Lightning will host the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
Hoffman scored the first goal of the game at 5:12 of the game, taking advantage of a beautiful cross pass by Suzuki.
The Lightning responded at 11:31 when Hedman charged through the crease and beat Montembeault on the shield side.
Montembeault made two good saves at the end of the first half. He first thwarted Ross Colton, forgotten in front of the net. He then stopped a powerful kick from Kucherov from the crease.
The Quebec goalkeeper was, however, helpless at 4:50 of the second half, when Hagel took advantage of a favorable jump from the posts before sticking the needle.
Gurianov tied the game 2-2, hitting the target 1:39 later. The Russian scored first after Anderson’s lateral.
The Canadian opened 3-2 with 7:37 to go in the second period. Ylönen scored at the end of a power play. He launched a powerful one-timer after a cross pass from Hoffman.
Montembeault once again closed the door at the end of the period. He stood in front of Stamkos during a Lightning power play.
It was just a reprieve for the Lightning’s captain. Stamkos tied the game 3–3 after 3:14 of play in the third period thanks to a single stopwatch on the power play.
Stamkos reached the 30-goal mark for the eighth time in 15 NHL seasons.
Hagel then returned to the charge 2:44 later, deflecting a shot from Hedman behind Montembeault.
Rem Pitlick came closest to prolonging the debate, deflecting a Mike Matheson throw-in against the post. The Canadian’s last efforts were in vain.
Hagel completed his hat-trick by scoring into an empty net with 43.6 seconds left on the clock.