The Tampa Bay Lightning acknowledged they were not at their best in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, with one critical exception.
Another brilliant showing from goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy bought Tampa Bay enough space to scratch out a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena and take a 2-0 series lead.
While the Canadiens dominated the flow of play and were the more aggressive team throughout, putting 43 shots on goal to Tampa Bay's 23, the Lightning had the decisive advantage.
“Thankfully, there was one guy that had his level where it needed to be," Lightning veteran Ryan McDonagh said of Vasilevskiy.
Tampa Bay's netminder was beaten only on Nick Suzuki's power-play goal midway through the second period.
He has stopped 60 of Montreal's 62 shots through the first two games and has defeated the Canadiens 10 straight times, but said he found success by keeping his mind clear.
"I'm trying not to think much during the games," Vasilevskiy said. "Whatever happens, win or lose, I'm just trying to go out there and play my best game, and now we’re up two games.
"It doesn’t matter -- up two games, down two games, it’s the same routine, same compete level.”
The 26-year-old Russian has been so good that it was jarring to see Suzuki's shot scoot past him and level the score after Anthony Cirelli had given Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead four minutes earlier.
The moment that turned the game the Lightning's way, though, came in the closing seconds of that second period, when Barclay Goodrow stole the puck at center ice and delivered it to Blake Coleman, who managed to get a shot off with one arm while diving through the air.
It got past Carey Price with 1.1 seconds remaining to send the Tampa crowd into a frenzy and give the Lightning a lead they would not relinquish.
"It's definitely something you don't want to do, give up goals in the first or last minute of periods," said Canadiens captain Shea Weber.
Despite that frustrating setback, Weber and his team will return to Montreal for Friday's Game 3 knowing they played better overall than in their 5-1 defeat to open the series.
"I thought we played a pretty solid game all around, to be honest," Weber said.
"We did make a couple mistakes that obviously hurt us. They're an opportunistic team that make you pay, but we probably deserved a little bit better tonight."