Stanley Cup Final: Bolts return to Canada to face the Habs with 2-0 lead

The Lightning return to Canada, but this time they’re not in a bubble. The Bolts are just two wins away from the Stanley Cup championship as they head into Game 3 in Montreal.

Historically, the chances of a sweep are high in the Stanley Cup Final. There have been 20 sweeps in the Stanley Cup Final as opposed to just five comebacks from an 0-2 deficit. 

The atmosphere inside Montreal’s Bell Center will be different than the first two games of the final. In Tampa, the Bolts had a packed Amalie Arena with nearly 18,000 fans cheering them on

However, the Bell Center will only have about 3,500 fans. The Canadian government still has tough COVID-19 restrictions and denied a request to expand that capacity – even for the Stanley Cup. 
Canada has some tough travel restrictions, keeping a lot of Bolts fans from watching those games in-person. However, the team is hosting its away watch party inside Amalie Arena again. Tickets are $10.

READ: Lightning super-fan ready to cheer Bolts to Stanley Cup victory

Canadiens assistant Luke Richardson is preparing to hand back the coaching duties to Dominique Ducharme for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final.

Ducharme, the team’s interim head coach, spent the past two weeks in mandatory quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. The 14-day period ended Thursday, leaving him eligible to return in time for Game 3.

"As far as I know, he’ll be back in the building first thing tomorrow with the team, ready to go, just like he was before he left," Richardson said Thursday before the Canadiens traveled to home trailing the series 2-0.

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Perhaps, Richardson said, Ducharme’s return could provide the team a boost, much like that of a player being cleared after an injury.

"We’ve kept in contact and had some Zoom meetings, but it’s not the same," he said. "So a fresh view and voice back there to add what he’s seen us do in the first two games is going to be a plus for us."

Richardson has a 3-3 record since taking over, and guided the Canadiens to win three of four to eliminate the Vegas Golden Knights in six games of their semifinal series.

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper says scoring first shouldn’t change a team’s approach.

PREVIOUS: Coleman, Vasilevskiy help Lightning take 2-0 series lead

It has worked so far for the defending champions in building a 2-0 lead in their Stanley Cup Final series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Tampa Bay has not only scored first in both games, it has yet to trail following a 3-1 win on Wednesday

The Lightning are 14-2 when scoring first in the playoffs, and 0-4 when giving up the first goal.

The Canadiens have also been dominant in that category. They’re 11-2 when scoring first and 1-6 when falling behind 1-0.

Game 3 starts 8 p.m. Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report