Anderson scores twice as Montreal stays alive in NHL finals

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·4-min read
Montreal's Josh Anderson dives to score the game-winning goal by chipping the puck past Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to lift the Canadiens to a 3-2 overtime win at the Centre Bell arena in Quebec
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Josh Anderson's second goal at 4:21 of overtime lifted the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in game four of the 2021 Stanley Cup finals.

Anderson's game winner came moments after Montreal had killed off a four-minute Tampa powerplay and it cut the Lightning's series lead to 3-1 in the best-of-seven NHL championship series.

"We understood the hole that we were in, but we just kind of talked about it: Find a way to win one game here," Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher said. "(Anderson) stepped up and scored a couple of big goals for us."

Anderson, who opened the scoring in the first period, dove out front and chipped the puck over the right leg pad of Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, sparking a wild celebration in front of the pandemic-limited crowd of 3,500 at the Bell Centre arena.

The goal kept Montreal alive in the playoffs as they avoided being swept in four straight games in a finals series for the first time since 1952 when they lost to Detroit.

Montreal have struggled to keep pace with the Lightning's explosive offence in the finals, but Canadiens fans are hoping that Anderson's two goals and goaltender Carey Price's improved play on Monday will give them a confidence boost moving forward. The series now switches back to Florida on Wednesday night.

"We didn't want to end it tonight in front of our fans," Anderson said. "We expected to go to Tampa. I think everybody in that locker room did."

Montreal killed off a double minor penalty to captain Shea Weber to start the overtime and then created one of their best scoring chances while shorthanded when Canada's Nick Suzuki got free for an open shot but Vasilevskiy got his pad on it.

The puck immediately went down to the other end of the ice where Price robbed Brayden Point in close as both goaltenders made huge saves early in the extra session.

Price had his best game of the series, finishing with 32 saves in the second of two straight games in Montreal which is hosting its first Stanley Cup final since winning their most recent Cup in 1993.

Montreal has won 24 Stanley Cups more than any other team in history while the Lightning are trying to win their second in as many seasons and third overall.

History though is not on Montreal's side, as teams that have gone down 3-0 in the final's first three games have lost 26 of the last 27 series.

Heading into game four, the Lightning had outclassed the Canadiens, using their superior speed, offensive skill and playoff experience to open up a substantial series lead. Montreal's coaches have also struggled to match wits with Tampa's boss Jon Cooper, whose staff includes former Canadien forward Jeff Halpern.

But Price was the difference-maker, setting the tone early in the first period with a point-blank save off Tampa's Blake Coleman. He also got a little help from his goal post late in third. With the score deadlocked, Tampa forward Nikita Kucherov hit the post on a deflection from the side of the net.

- Price was right -

"What could we have done different? Probably not hit as many posts as we hit," Cooper said.

Anderson drew first blood at 15:39 of the first by getting open in front of the Tampa net. Suzuki hit him with a perfectly timed pass from the behind the goal that Anderson snapped past Vasilevskiy.

Tampa forward Barclay Goodrow scored late in the second to tie it 1-1. American Ryan McDonagh did the heavy lifting on the play forcing a turnover to keep the puck in the Montreal zone and then getting a rebound and delivering a no-look back pass to a wide open Goodrow.

Defenceman Alexander Romanov restored Montreal's lead at 8:48 of the third, making it 2-1.

But Tampa's Pat Maroon tied it 2-2 five minutes later, finishing off a two-on-one with Mathieu Joseph. Maroon is seeking to win his third straight Stanley Cup having won last season with Tampa and in 2019 with St. Louis.

Weber was handed a four-minute penalty with 61 seconds left in the regulation for accidently getting the blade of his stick in the face of a Tampa player.

"Sometimes you play pretty good and it's a break here, a break there that just doesn't go your way. You just got to keep working through it," Cooper added. "No hanging our heads but I liked a lot of things we did tonight."

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