A second straight strong performance coupled with the dominance of Carey Price added up to a 4-1 victory over the Lightning on Friday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum and a two games to none stranglehold on the Atlantic Division semifinals.
The key for the Habs was building on what they did Wednesday and fixing what ailed them, namely too many mistakes leading to quality scoring chances against and a woeful power play. They did just that, limiting the amount of bad spots they put Price in and ending a power-play drought that lasted almost a month.
David Desharnais scored that power-play goal, Rene Bourque had two and Brendan Gallagher another.
Desharnais didn't make too much of the Canadiens' power-play drought coming into the game.
"You score on the (third) one here tonight, it makes a pretty high per cent," he said. "I don't think it's a big deal."
Price stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced and came less than two minutes away from his first shutout in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2011.
Teddy Purcell's goal snapped the Habs' shutout streak in the series to 82:42 that began with Steven Stamkos's tying goal in the third period of Game 1.
Anders Lindback and the Lightning had no such streak going, even though the backup goaltender couldn't be blamed for the loss. Lindback, playing again in place of the injured Ben Bishop, stopped 20 of 23 shots before the Habs chased him.
Kristers Gudlevskis, the Latvian goalie who made 55 saves to put a scare into Team Canada in Sochi, replaced him and allowed a goal on three shots.
It's possible Gudlevskis gets the call as the series moves to Montreal for Game 3 Sunday at Bell Centre.
Game 4 is Tuesday, but thanks to the Habs taking the first two on the road, nothing is guaranteed in this series beyond that.
The Habs and Lightning talked about tightening things up from Game 1, and off the bat it looked like that message got through. Many of the defensive-zone turnovers and other mistakes that made for entertaining, back-and-forth action Wednesday night were down, but scoring chances were still plentiful.
"It was a complete team effort tonight," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "I liked the way that we were managing the puck. I liked our checking game too.
"We were ready for adjustments from the Lightning and guys really stuck to the game plan."
Price had to make two pad saves in the first minute and then blockered away another 70 seconds in. Lindback had to make a big stop on Desharnais not long after, then stoned Brian Gionta on a breakaway at the seven-minute mark.
Before the period ended, Lindback had to make a glove save on Max Pacioretty to keep the Lightning from starting at an intermission deficit. He did, but Montreal didn't take long in the second to claim a lead.
The Habs entered the night 0 for their past 25 on the power play and technically went 0 for 2 in the first period. When Tampa Bay's Richard Panik went off for hooking early in the second, that drought ended.
P.K. Subban delivered a perfect slap pass in front to Desharnais, who tipped it past Lindback at 2:34, just six seconds into the power play. It was Montreal's first on the power play since March 25 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Brandon Prust then found his way on to the score sheet in the series by fighting Radko Gudas less than 30 seconds later. That turned the temperature up on this game, leading to more pushing and shoving as things progressed.
Midway through the period, after Steven Stamkos single handedly gave the Habs a short-handed two-on-one rush and skated hard enough to take it away, the Habs added to their lead anyway.
A pass from Subban ricocheted off Panik's stick and to Vanek in the neutral zone. A no-look pass to Bourque then gave the Habs forward the momentum to blow past Eric Brewer and turn Sami Salo inside-out.
Bourque's final, masterful move was to avoid Lindback's poke check and slide the puck in on the right side of the net while going left himself. That goal at 10:35 of the second was his first goal in 10 games, dating to March 22 in Toronto.
It remained 2-0 Montreal only because of a show-stopping save by Price on Gaspe, Que., native Cedric Paquette at the 15:31 mark. Paquette fired a loose puck from the top of the crease, and Price managed to get his left pad on it.
Gallagher added insurance at 11:46 of the third by controlling a shot he banked off defenceman Matt Carle and firing it past Lindback. That goal chased Lindback and begged the question of which direction Cooper will go in net moving forward.
Gudlevskis, who was making his playoff debut at the NHL level, gave up a goal on the first scoring chance he saw. He stopped Bourque's initial shot but couldn't get post-to-post to prevent the wrap-around goal at 14:39.
After Bourque scored to make it his first multi-goal game since Feb. 2, 2013, Habs fans in the building began "Ole" chants as those in Lightning blue and white headed for the exits.
Purcell broke up the shutout at the 18:01 mark, scoring on the power play following a hooking penalty on Lars Eller.Suggest a correction