The Stanley Cup dream for the Montreal Canadiens is all but over.

The Lightning scored twice in the first four minutes of a Game 3 and then added another pair of goals in the first four minutes of the second period, putting the Canadiens in an early deficit they could never crawl out of in a 6-3 loss in a pivotal Game 3 on Friday.

While still alive, it will take a miracle to come back from a 3-0 deficit against the defending champions.

Carey Price was excellent in the first three rounds of the playoffs but has yet to find his groove in the Stanley Cup Final and he especially struggled in Game 3. After allowing two early shots from the point, he never looked comfortable in the game and finished with five goals against on 29 shots.

The Canadiens were hoping to increase their home ice advantage ahead of Game 3 by adding more fans to the Bell Centre, but the team’s request to increase capacity from 3,500 to 10,500 was denied by the Quebec government on Wednesday.

The 3,500 fans that were in attendance were doing their best to fill the arena with noise, but they quickly fell silent when the Lightning scored two goals in the first four minutes of the game.

Down 2-0, Dominique Ducharme — back behind the bench for the first time since contracting COVID-19 — called an early timeout. It seemed to help the Canadiens settle in to Game 3 in the first period, and they were able to cut the deficit to one on Philip Danault’s first goal of the playoffs.

That goal left reason for optimism going into the second period, but the Lightning stormed out and did exactly what they did in the first — score two goals within the first four minutes — and took a commanding 4-1 lead.

Nick Suzuki gave the Habs some life late in the second on a bad angle shot that snuck under Andrei Vasilevskiy’s pad.

It was the Lightning who scored the next goal, and despite Corey Perry scoring shortly after to keep the game in reach momentarily, Tampa Bay added an empty netter to put the game away for good.

The Canadiens are still alive, but trailing 3-0 they’ll have to win four straight games to win the Stanley Cup. Needless to say, it’s an extremely improbable feat. Only four teams have pulled off the comeback in NHL history, and only once was it done in the Stanley Cup Final.

Still, the Canadiens have been counted out and discredited this entire postseason, and they did overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

If the Habs have any chance to make this comeback, they need Price to play at the level he was in the previous rounds. He posted a .934 save percentage and 2.02 goals against through the first three rounds, and through three games of the Stanley Cup Finals he’s plummeted to an .835 sv% and a goals against over four.

The Canadiens will try to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive on Monday for Game 4, puck drops at the Bell Centre at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT.

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