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game recap

Lightning stay alive in wild-card race

Defeat Canadiens, move within one point of final playoff spot

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- The Tampa Bay Lightning remained in Stanley Cup Playoff contention with a 4-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Friday. 

Tampa Bay (41-30-10), which would have been eliminated with a loss, is one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday and are 7-1-1 in their past nine games.

"I think it just shows the type of character we have," Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman said. "Whoever's in or out of the lineup, it doesn't matter, we all work for each other and everybody fills their role and plays their part. It's fun playing like this. Everybody can feel the passion we have and everybody's coming along, playing well together, and we're effective when we play like that. Unfortunately it hasn't been consistent enough this year, that's why we are where we are, but we're still giving us a chance. That's all we can ask for at this point. It's obviously not in our hands, but who knows? We do what we can do, and then we'll see."

 

WATCH: All Lightning vs. Canadiens highlights

 

The Lightning have one game remaining, against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Tampa Bay would be eliminated if Toronto wins either of its two remaining games, against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday or against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

"We can't really control anything, but we'll have to wait and see [Saturday] night how the game unfolds, but we'll make sure to prepare for Sunday like it's our season on the line," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "We'll see what happens [Saturday] night, but it's out of our control."

Yanni Gourde scored twice, Nikita Kucherov scored his 40th goal and had an assist, and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 27 saves in his third straight start. 

Dwight King and Artturi Lehkonen scored, and Carey Price made 18 saves for Montreal (46-26-9), which finished its home schedule 24-12-5. 

"That was a desperate team we played tonight," Price said. "They came out firing and they obviously capitalized on some chances that we gave them, and you've got to give that team credit, they played pretty well tonight."

Video: TBL@MTL: Vasilevskiy uses acrobatics to deny Danault

The Canadiens, who play their final regular-season game at the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, have clinched the Atlantic Divison and will play the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round. The playoffs begin April 12.

Gourde scored at 11:42 of the first period after Kucherov's wrist shot hit the crossbar. Kucherov made it 2-0 with 10 seconds left.

King scored on a breakaway at 9:59 of the second period to draw Montreal within 2-1. Killorn made it 3-1 with his 19th goal at 14:19. 

Lehkonen made it 3-2 with a shorthanded goal at 4:36 of the third period on a backhand from the right corner that deflected off Hedman's stick and over Vasilevskiy. 

Gourde made it 4-2 with his sixth goal at 4:57. It was his first two-goal game in 21 NHL games.

Video: TBL@MTL: Gourde buries rebound into wide-open net

 

Goal of the game

Killorn tipped the puck past Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson and sped down the ice to give Tampa Bay a two-goal lead.

Video: TBL@MTL: Killorn beats Price with top-shelf tally

 

Save of the game

Vasilevskiy, who was down on the ice, lost his stick as he made a desperation dive to his left to get his glove on Alexander Radulov's power-play shot from the right faceoff circle in the third period.

Video: TBL@MTL: Vasilevskiy lays out to make remarkable stop

 
Highlight of the game

Kucherov scored after Ondrej Palat's lob pass sent him on a breakaway. 

"They threw the football before the game, so that was kind of a Hail Mary play, but it was executed to perfection," Hedman said.

Kucherov is three goals behind NHL leader Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Video: TBL@MTL: Kucherov nets his 40th goal of the season

 

Unsung performance of the game

Lightning center Gabriel Dumont won seven of 12 faceoffs (58.3 percent), had two blocked shots, and led them with six hits.

 

They said it

"We've had a lot of guys that have been hurt, but it seems like there has been definitely an urgency in these last 20 games, where we haven't really been even close to a playoff spot and now we're one point away. They (the Maple Leafs) have a game in hand, but still, it's a great opportunity, and I think that's why this team has done so well in the playoffs recently, it's because we rise to these occasions." -- Lightning forward Alex Killorn

 

"I think tonight we had some grade-A chances that we didn't bury, so it could have been a bit of a different, or tighter, maybe, score than it was." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien

 

Need to know

Kucherov is the fifth Lightning player to score 40 goals in a season, joining Brian Bradley, Vincent Lecavalier (twice), Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos (four times). … Price, Radulov, defenseman Andrei Markov and forward Max Pacioretty will not travel with the Canadiens to Detroit; neither will injured defensemen Shea Weber and Alexei Emelin. Goalie Charlie Lindgren will start.

 

What's next

Lightning: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; SUN, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Canadiens: At the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVA Sports, FS-D, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Gourde scores a pair in 4-2 win over Canadiens

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