By Sarah Kwak
Max Pacioretty had been searching, scavenging for his opportunity all game long — well, no, it had been more like all week. Goalless for six-plus games, he was approaching his longest scoring drought of the season. While he watched Canadiens teammates Brendan Gallagher and Rene Bourque make their mark on this postseason series against the Lightning, Pacioretty waited patiently and stuck to his game. Though Montreal coach Michel Therrien encouraged him, praising the 25-year-old winger’s play, sometimes it’s hard to believe words when the numbers don’t follow.
But finally, in the waning seconds of a 3-3 game, one in which Tampa Bay tried valiantly to avoid an embarrassing sweep, Pacioretty got his first playoff goal. On a late power play, he did the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He made the right plays to keep the puck moving in the zone, so when Thomas Vanek’s shot deflected in the slot and remained loose in front of Lightning goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, Pacioretty was right there to punch the puck in with 43 seconds remaining. The Bell Centre erupted. The Canadiens finished off Tampa Bay with a 4-3 victory.
That’s a balayage pour les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
Here are some observations from Game 4: