TAMPA, Fla. — Blake Coleman’s diving goal with two seconds remaining in the second period would be astonishing in itself except the winger has pulled off a similar highlight-reel play before. And before that, too.
Coleman’s second-period buzzer-beater proved to be the winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, as the Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Coleman, 29, scored a similar goal in Game 2 of the second round in the 2020 playoffs, as well in October 2019 while with the New Jersey Devils.
“Literally, in my head I was like, ‘Did he just do that again?'” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Different scenarios, but it was remarkably similar. Just the timing was epic.”
Coleman, the third-line winger, credited the play to “reflex.”
“I knew they had a backchecker there and I just tried to beat him to the puck,” Coleman said. “I don’t think anybody is planning to dive on the ice, but that was all I had and Goody [linemate Barclay Goodrow] put it in a good spot. I don’t know why these goals happen, but it was a big win for our team.”
The Lightning won Game 2 despite being outplayed by the Canadiens.
“It definitely was an unremarkable team game we had going on,” Cooper said.
Montreal outshot Tampa Bay 43 to 23 and had a 62.23 expected goals for percentage, according to Natural Stat Trick. The minus-20 shot differential is the second-largest negative differential by a team to win a Cup Finals game by multiple goals since 1960.
It was Coleman’s goal, breaking a 1-1 tie, that gave the Lightning an extra jolt heading into the third period.
“Didn’t know if there was enough time on the clock,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “I was looking up and not really watching the play. I mean, didn’t really even see it go in, I was just kind of watching the clock and thankfully there was, whatever, half a second left. That line continues to night in, night out bring it in different fashions: close guys out, play well defensively and score some huge timely goals.”
The goal was Coleman’s first since scoring in the Lightning’s playoff opener against the Florida Panthers on May 16.
Once the Lightning went into the third period with a lead, the Canadiens didn’t stand much of a chance.
“I thought we played a heck of a hockey game,” Canadiens veteran Corey Perry said. “But at the same time it wasn’t enough and we’ve got to find that extra gear.”
Teams up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the series 46 of 51 times (90%). The last team to come back from a 2-0 series deficit to win the Stanley Cup was the 2011 Boston Bruins against the Vancouver Canucks. The 2011 Canucks were the last Canadian-based team to make the Stanley Cup Finals before the Canadiens advanced this year.
The series now shifts back to Montreal for Game 3 on Friday. The Lightning increased their capacity to 18,600 for Game 2, but it won’t be the same environment on Friday. On Wednesday, Quebec health authorities denied the Canadiens’ proposal to increase their capacity to 50% — which equates to 10,500 fans — meaning the Bell Centre will have just 3,500 on hand for Games 3 and 4.
“The playoffs are so close, a bounce here, a bounce there, a timely goal, whatever it is, the games are so minimal,” Perry said. ” It’s just one of those things. They get a break at the end of the second, whatever, point-5 seconds, whatever it is. It’s a momentum swing. I thought we played well tonight. I thought we had a lot of great chances. We were skating. We were forechecking. We had the puck a lot of the night. If we continue to do that, we’ll keep wearing them down.”