If the regular season was an indicator then we should have known the curtain raiser between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning would find its way to overtime.
As evident by the fact that three of their four regular-season meetings extended into overtime, Steve Yzerman's Lightning and Marc Bergevin's Canadiens are as evenly matched as they come.
It was Bergevin, a teammate of Yzerman's with the 1995-96 Detroit Wings, who did the celebrating in the end with a 5-4 victory on Dale Weise's first career Stanley Cup playoff goal with 1:52 remaining the first extra period.
"The Habs were my favourite team growing up and I've scored this winning goal 100 times in my driveway," Weise, a native of Winnipeg, said.
This game was a fast-paced, wide-open affair. It was a hockey fan's dream, but a coach's nightmare. There wasn't much defence and plenty of odd-man rushes.
The Canadiens deserved the victory. They out-played their opponents at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They outshot the Lightning 44-25, and they had more shot attempts (shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots) at 74-52. But neither team could hold the lead.
There were so many players you thought were going to be the hero in this one, only to be outdone swiftly by an opponent.
Eller makes playoff return
Eller would have been a nice story if his goal held up as the game winner. This was his first playoff game since he was knocked unconscious and out for the season because of a hit from Ottawa defenceman Eric Gryba in the Canadiens' first game last spring.
Just when you thought the hero could have been someone like 35-year-old Gionta, a Stanley Cup champion 11-years-ago who will play in his 100th career playoff game later in this series, you turn to Killorn.
He was born in Halifax, but was raised in the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield, and wanted nothing more than to beat his hometown club. This was the Harvard graduate's first NHL playoff game, but he's won an AHL Calder Cup with Norfolk in 2012.
Vanek, however, pushed Killorn aside with his goal thanks to a dandy pass from linemate David Desharnais. Vanek has not won a playoff series since his old team, the Buffalo Sabres, advanced to back-to-back East finals in 2006 and 2007. But the trade-deadline pickup hasn't lost his goal-scoring touch when it counts. He now has 16 goals in 37 career playoff games.
Stamkos was no slouch, either. His two-goal game gives him eight in 19 post-season games.
Instead, the hero wound up being an unlikely one in Weise. The 25-year-old forward played only 13:21. Only Michael Bournival played less at 12:28. But Weise was left wide open in front when his linemate Daniel Briere found him for the game winner.
With the Tampa Bay defence duo of Eric Brewer and Radko Gudas battling behind the net, Lightning centre Cedric Paquette, who was playing in his third NHL game after being called up for Tampa Bay's final two regular-season games, got caught following the puck behind the goal-line and left Weise wide open.
"I don't know if we expected it to be 5-4, but that's [the] playoffs, anything can happen," Weise said.
Anything and everything did happen in this game.
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