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Canadiens clip Lightning, take 3-0 stranglehold in series
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Rene Bourque scored the fastest game- opening goal for the Canadiens in almost 37 years, Carey Price came up with 27 saves, and Montreal is one victory away from a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning after a 3-2 win in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal set on Sunday.
Brendan Gallagher added a goal and one assist, while Tomas Plekanec also lit the lamp for the Canadiens, who can advance to the conference semifinals with another positive decision in Tuesday's Game 4 on home ice.
P.K. Subban contributed a pair of helpers for Montreal, which hasn't played in the second round since reaching the Eastern finals in 2010.
Ondrej Palat and Matt Carle provided goals with Steven Stamkos assisting on both for the Lightning, who face a long uphill battle if they wish to stay alive.
Anders Lindback made 28 saves in the setback. Tampa has never been swept in seven postseason appearances.
The Lightning had a potential go-ahead goal from Ryan Callahan with less than 4 1/2 minutes left in the second period wiped out when officials ruled that forward Alex Killorn made contact with Price and then refused to move out of his way seconds before the puck crossed the line.
Montreal took the lead for good inside of two minutes before intermission. Subban burned Palat while skating from left to right behind the Bolts' net, then slid a cross-ice pass for Gallagher, who lifted a shot home on the short side.
Montreal assumed a 3-1 edge at the 5:43 mark of the third period, after Plekanec beat Lindback high to the far post on a laser shot from the right- wing boards, but the visitors made one last push.
Carle's long slapper from the blue line eluded Price thanks to traffic in front with 8:24 to play and drew the Bolts within a goal.
Due to forechecking pressure, Tampa couldn't pull Lindback until 65 seconds remained in regulation. On the following shift, Price alertly closed off the left side and caught a Stamkos blast in his chest with 34.8 showing.
Price needed to make one more save in close, but his defense protected that one-goal margin to the end thanks to crowding shooting lanes.
Things looked promising for the hosts right from the start. Bourque's wrister from the left circle found space through the crook of Lindback's arm only 11 seconds after the opening faceoff.
It proved to be the quickest marker from the start of a playoff game since Bob Gainey tallied seven seconds into the series-clinching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup semifinals against the Islanders in a 2-1 win on May 5, 1977.
The Bolts snapped to attention and killed off both portions of a high-sticking double minor to Mark Barberio shortly after the first goal, which gave Lindback extra confidence against the Habs attack. He stopped the remaining 12 shots in the first period and his offense took advantage.
Palat tied the game on a power-play marker with 8:39 gone in the second on a quick shot from the slot which rolled through Price's pads.
The Canadiens haven't recorded a four-game sweep since the 1993 Adams Division finals vs. Buffalo ... Stamkos left the game late in the second period, after he was staggered by an accidental knee to the head by Habs defenseman Alexei Emelin when tangled with Brandon Prust in the neutral zone. He remained hunched over on his knees for several moments, but eventually exited the game under his own power and returned to the bench for the start of the third period ... Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and 2010 Philadelphia Flyers have won a best-of-seven series after dropping the first three games.
04/20 22:43:55 ET