Habs fans fill downtown streets to celebrate after team avoids elimination from Stanley Cup finals

The crowd outside the Bell Centre in Montreal was ecstatic after the Montreal Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime, with some cheering and others setting off fireworks as the Habs escaped elimination in a close game that went into overtime.

A heavy police presence quickly dislodged the crowd as they made their way to Rene-Levesque Boulevard.

To win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993, the Canadiens will have to win the next three games of the finals, as the Lightning lead the series 3-1. The next game is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in Tampa.

The crowd outside the Bell Centre was already buzzing by late Monday afternoon in Montreal, and the atmosphere was the same inside for Game 4 of the NHL Finals series.

Hundreds of fans celebrated the event outdoors, especially around the Bell Centre.

The atmosphere was festive, although some Tampa fans were booed by the crowd. People were singing and chanting “Go Habs Go” under a strong police presence. Barriers were erected to clear the entrance to the Bell Centre.

Fan Andrew Fata was among the many in front of the Habs’ home city.

“They’re going to win, absolutely! The team knows the whole city is behind them,” he said before the game began.

Season ticket holder Corinne Kennedy came from Ontario with her seven-year-old daughter to see the game at the Bell Centre. The last time the Habs reached the Stanley Cup Final, Kennedy said she was in high school.

“We’re hoping for the best, but we’re just happy to be here,” she said, adding optimistically that tonight’s result would be different.

For her part, the mayor of Montreal, Valerie Plante, had decided to encourage the Canadiens on the esplanade of the Olympic Park for a projection of the game on a giant screen in the respect of the sanitary guidlines due to COVID-19.

A similar projection was organized in the Quartier des spectacles.

“I want to ensure that there is no breakage, that it goes well and that people feel safe,” said the mayor. “That’s why it’s important to attend the game, ideally in places that are set up accordingly.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 6, 2021.

This article was produced with the financial support of Facebook and The Canadian Press News Bursaries.

Habs fans fill downtown streets to celebrate after team avoids elimination from Stanley Cup finals