MONTREAL — A television timeout turned into must-see TV late in the second period Saturday.
With the cameras away during a stoppage in the action and both teams assembled around their benches, a near melee broke out, sparked by a confrontation between Tampa Bay G Ben Bishop and Montreal RW Brandon Prust.
Bishop was skating around in the Lightning zone as Prust approached him and shared a few choice words with the Tampa Bay goaltender. Bishop engaged with Prust, who then put the blade of the stick in the lower region of Bishop’s abdominal area. Bishop remained engaged as Prust delivered a cross check to Bishop’s chest, which was followed by Bishop delivering a couple of haymakers at Prust as teammates quickly rushed to the scene to intervene.
“He came down and started chirping and one thing led to another,’’ Bishop said. “I don’t even know what I did in the game that made him so mad but he came down and started yelling.’’
Prust said after the game that Bishop was complaining to the referees throughout the game.
“I’d heard him yapping all game so I just told him to quit whining and shut up,’’ Prust said. “He didn’t like that, so he started yelling at me and I yelled at him, then he came at me.’’
By the time it was all sorted out, Prust was handed an unsportsmanlike call, Bishop and Montreal G Carey Price received minors for leaving the crease, and Radko Gudas and George Parros were handed 10-minute misconduct penalties.
The Montreal crowd then began chanting Bishop’s name the rest of the game and booed him every time he touched the puck.
“That’s just two guys competing,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “I guess it’s fun for everyone (and) it didn’t have any effect on the game the way it was played down the stretch. So no harm, no foul.’’
For the third time in four games Tampa Bay scored a short-handed goal as C Nate Thompson notched his second of the season. It was the sixth short-handed goal on the season for the Lightning, tied for fourth in the league.
Thompson and Tyler Johnson each have two short-handed goals, while D Victor Hedman has assisted on four of the six.
The timing for the call-up for Montreal rookie Christian Thomas could not have been better. He made his Canadiens debut in his second NHL game with his father, Lightning assistant coach Steve Thomas, on the opposing bench.
“I haven’t seen him since Christmas,’’ Steve Thomas said. “For him it’s just another really good opportunity. You don’t want to put any pressure on yourself, but you don’t want to squander it, either. So we’ll see what happens.’’
Christian Thomas finished the game with 8:16 of ice time with one shot attempt, one takeaway and one blocked shot.
Lightning D J-P Cote was on the ice as part of the starting lineup Saturday, facing the team that he played his first eight career games with and near his hometown.
“I spent some time in this building. It’s the first team that I played for and it’s in my backyard, basically, so obviously it’s something special,’’ Cote said of returning to Bell Centre. “I get to see my family and things like that. It’s those little things that make it a lot more fun.’’
Nuts and Bolts
C Valtteri Filppula (lower body) missed Saturday’s game but is considered probable for Tuesday’s game at Minnesota. ... D Keith Aulie was scratched. ... G Kristers Gudlevskis was sent to Syracuse after the game. ... Tampa Bay improved to 16-12-2 on the road. ... Hedman played a season-high 28:33 of ice time. He has 10 points in his past five games. ... LW Ondrej Palat had his five-game scoring streak snapped. ... The Lightning have killed off 12 consecutive power plays against.