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Canadiens avoid sweep with win against Lightning

by Corey Long /

TAMPA -- The Montreal Canadiens avoided being swept out of the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 6-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

Max Pacioretty scored a shorthanded goal and had two assists, helping Montreal take a 5-0 lead midway through the second period.

Game 5 in the best-of-7 series is at Bell Centre on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TV-A, NBCSN).

"This group won three out of four elimination games in the playoffs last year, so we knew what to expect and we played with that desperation we needed to have," Pacioretty said. "But we're still down three games to one and we need to play with that same desperation the next game and hope to creep into their mind by playing the right way."

Andrei Markov, David Desharnais, Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Prust scored for the Canadiens, who defeated the Lightning for the first time since sweeping their Eastern Conference First Round series last season.

Markov scored 2:44 into the game on the Canadiens' first shot on goal. Pacioretty started the play by escaping from Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle and cycling the puck to P.K. Subban, who found Markov open in the slot, where he scored top-shelf over a sprawling save attempt by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.

"[Subban] gave it to Markov with a great chance to score by the goalie being out of the net," Pacioretty said. "So that gets us going, obviously that's the first shot of the game, so you think maybe you get in their goalie's head a little bit."

Pacioretty scored his fourth goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at 8:43 with the Lightning on a power play. Defenseman Tom Gilbert raced to an open puck and passed it to Pacioretty, who scored on the breakaway to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead.

Desharnais' goal at 5:08 of the second period came off a slap shot from the left circle. Bishop tried to make a glove save but the puck bounced out and into the net.

"You don't control whether you get the good bounces or you're on the bad end of the bounces," Subban said. "I think we've competed hard, we've done a lot of things well, but we just didn't finish. We had to focus on continuing to do the things that have allowed us to put 40 shots on net, 35 shots or whatever it is, consistently for most of the series.

"These are the games where your best players are going to be your best players. You're facing elimination and you have to be the difference in the game. We worked hard and we deserved to win. Throughout this series I think we've deserved better than we've received, but that's out of our control."

Bishop, who had won eight straight games against Montreal, was pulled for Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"It was a back-to-back," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I sit there and look at the goals. Pacioretty's got a breakaway, that's a big-time shot. Even Markov, those aren't [Ben's] fault. That was a complete cluster in the [defensive] zone. We just completely broke down and gave them an easy one. So that's not his fault."

The Canadiens scored twice on Vasilevskiy, a 20-year-old rookie making his NHL playoff debut, in a 15-second span with Petry's power-play goal at 9:39 and Gallagher's wrist shot at 9:54.

"I expected a good game [Thursday] from our club," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "We didn't change anything, honestly. We played the same way we did in Game 1. We did the same thing that we did yesterday. I'm really proud of our players; they got rewarded finally [for] their hard work."

Nikita Kucherov got the Lightning within 5-1 with his fourth goal of the playoffs at 12:28 of the second. Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat and Prust scored in the third period.

The Lightning won Game 3 2-1 on Wednesday when Tyler Johnson scored with 1.1 seconds left in the third period.

"It's a resilient team over there," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "Their backs are against the wall. We stole one [Wednesday], and probably didn't deserve to win. Definitely didn't deserve it [Thursday] and we got what's coming. No point in dwelling on it now. We didn't expect this to be a quick series at the beginning, and we've got to find a way to win in a rink where we've won the past couple of times."

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