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Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Montr?al Canadiens 3 FINAL OT @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL (AP) _ Brad Richards and the Tampa Bay Lightning stole the thunder from the Montreal Canadiens and all but knocked them out of the playoffs.

Richards' second goal of the game, scored 1:05 into overtime, gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 win Tuesday night over Montreal and lifted the Lightning to a 3-0 lead in the second-round playoff series.

``It's a scenario that you lie in bed and dream about when you're a kid,'' Richards said. ``It's unbelievable. An overtime goal in the playoffs is great anywhere, but to do it in Montreal, it's just so much fun.''

With one more victory, the Lightning will reach the conference finals for the first time in their 12-year NHL history. That could come as early as Thursday night with Game 4 in Montreal.

Vincent Lecavalier scored his fifth goal of the series with 16.5 seconds remaining in regulation to get the Lightning into overtime. It was there that Tampa Bay won its sixth straight playoff game this year.

The Canadiens lost the fourth game of their first-round series against Boston in double overtime after giving up Mike Knuble's tying goal with 30.7 seconds left in the third.

``We must hold some kind of record on having goals scored on us late in a game like that,'' Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray said. ``But we weren't defeated at that point, that's for sure.''

The Lightning, who won the final three games of their first-round series against the New York Islanders, didn't take long to finish off the Canadiens in overtime.

Richards, who scored his second goal of the playoffs to put Tampa Bay up 2-1 in the second period, got his own rebound and banked a shot from behind the goal line off the left skate of goalie Jose Theodore and into the net for the winner.

``When you win, you don't need to say if, and you don't have to go through the plays over and over again,'' Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. ``Hopefully we can find some positive things and take everything we can from this game for the next one.''

Nikolai Khabibulin made 28 saves, and Cory Stillman scored a short-handed goal for Tampa Bay.

Montreal rookie Michael Ryder scored his first goal of the playoffs midway through the third, and Patrice Brisebois put the Canadiens up 3-2 when he scored off a faceoff at 16:13.

``I think the most important thing in playoff hockey is handling those type of situations,'' Lightning coach John Tortorella said. ``We always talk about surges, we always talk about those types of plays _ they come back and score two in the third period, but we still have time.''

The Lightning have won two playoff series in their history, one in each of the last two years, but have never advanced with a sweep.

Lecavalier, who scored four goals in the first two games of the series, forced overtime when he stuck his stick through his legs to redirect Dave Andreychuk's pass behind Theodore at 19:43.

The enthusiastic sellout crowd let out a stunned gasp as Lecavalier banged his stick against the glass behind the net while Richards joined him in celebration.

``It would have been great against the Islanders or anywhere,'' Lecavalier said. ``Any time you score a goal late in the game and then win in overtime, it feels great. It's always special to play in Montreal in front of friends and family.''

NHL scoring champion Martin St. Louis and Lecavalier, both Montreal natives, had plenty of supporters in attendance, though they had little chance of being heard over the partisan crowd.

``It's loud,'' said Fredrik Modin, who assisted on Richards' overtime goal. ``It is so loud in there, and there is so much energy floating around in that rink. It was a lot of fun to play here.''

The Canadiens came out aggressively in the first period when referees Paul Devorski and Rob Shick handed out 34 minutes in penalties including nine minors against Montreal.

``We knew we had our hands full right from the get-go,'' Tortorella said.

Stillman scored on his second straight breakaway chance 58 seconds into the Canadiens' second power play of the game, 8:41 into the middle period.

The Canadiens tied it on the same power play when Alex Kovalev scored his sixth goal of the playoffs 52 seconds later.

Richards quieted the crowd again when he put a point shot past Theodore on a power play at 12:24.

Ryder, the league's rookie scoring leader during the season, scored his first goal in 10 playoff games 10:32 into the third to tie it at 2.

Brisebois gave the Canadiens hope of getting back into the series when he beat Khabibulin with 2:47 left on a shot from the right boards after Jim Dowd won a faceoff in Tampa Bay's zone.

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