The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1, in Game 6 of their second-round Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoff series on May 12 to win the series, 4-2. Tampa Bay now moves on to the Eastern Conference Finals to face either the Washington Capitals or New York Rangers.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have eliminated the Montreal Canadiens.
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The Lightning relied on two goals from Nikita Kucherov to beat the visiting Canadiens, 4-1, and win their second-round Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoff series 4-2 on May 12, per Bryan Burns of the Lightning's official website.
Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop finished with 19 saves to boost his all-time record against the Canadiens to 14-5. Tampa Bay also upped its record against Montreal to 9-2-0 in the 2014-15 NHL season, per Burns.
Tampa Bay managed to hold off Montreal despite leading the series 3-0. It will be the Lightning's third trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in franchise history, per the team's official website.
Their head coach, Jon Cooper, told Burns after the game he's fortunate to be coaching such a special group of players:
"It's impressive to watch this team grow in such a short time we've been together.
"I think we only had four playoff games and got a ton of lessons from the guys across the hall, and to come back and learn what we learned and play with in all sorts of different situations, two elimination games in the Detroit (Red Wings) series, to go up to Montreal and take two in a row, then to take a step back and lose two and everybody kind of say,'Oh no, Tampa's in trouble now,' and come out and play the way we did tonight, it's just experience after experience after experience these guys are learning.
"It's a lot of fun to be a part of."
Kucherov put the Lightning on the board at the 15:35 mark of the first period off an assist by Ondrej Palat. After Canadiens netminder Carey Price blocked a Kucherov shot, Palat picked off a clearing pass near the right boards and sent the puck to Kucherov for the goal, per Burns.
The Lightning seized momentum for good during the second period.
Lightning team captain Steven Stamkos scored his third goal of the playoffs and second in the last two games when his wrist shot went into the net for a 2-0 Tampa Bay lead at the 5:12 mark of the second period. Alex Killorn took credit for the assist, per the team's official website.
"It looks like I've had a little more room out there the last couple games," Stamkos told Burns. "Obviously, a great play by (Killorn) and just tried to snap one off as quick as possible."
Palat and Kucherov joined forces again for a power play goal on a beautiful give-and-go opportunity with just over a minute left to play in the second period.
Palat sent the puck to Kucherov below the goal and then cut to the near post where Kucherov found him for goal on the far post to pad Tampa Bay's lead to 3-0, per Burns.
"I thought (Palat's) goal at the end was probably the dagger," Stamkos told the Lightning's official website. "We knew they were still going to come out hard, but to go up 3-0, that was a momentum shift in the game."
With the Palat score, the Lightning upped their power-play-conversion rate to 7-for-16 for a 44 percent clip, per Burns.
As for the Habs, they converted on a miserable 2-for-36 power-play opportunities in 12 games against the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning in this year's playoffs, per The Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs.
After they went up by three goals, the Lightning clamped down on the Canadiens in the final period, allowing only six shots during that 20-minute frame. Montreal forward Max Pacioretty finally broke his team's silence with a goal with just 4:57 left to play, but it hardly mattered in the end, per the Lightning's official website.
Burns says Tampa Bay outshot Montreal, 28-19. It was the first time the Lightning registered more shots than the Canadiens during the series.
Price had 27 saves in Game 6. Despite finishing the playoffs with a .920 save percentage and a 2.23 goals-against average, he told Stubbs he felt he didn't play that well:
"Um, disappointed. That's about it.
"I didn't play well enough for us to win the series, you know? That's more or less what it comes down to. We lost a lot of tight games. I just need to make that one more save in all the games that we lost and I didn't do that."
On the other hand, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban told The Montreal Gazette he and his teammates need to build on this loss for next season:
"We accomplished a lot of things in the regular season that people are going to look at as a bright spot. In my opinion, the true reflection of a good season is how you do in the playoffs.
"The expectations have risen for us and are going to rise again next year, and we have to be prepared to take that next step.
"We showed a lot of character, being down 3-0 and pulling the series to a point where we are in the series and had an opportunity to take it. But by the same token, I don't think anybody in here is going to be satisfied with how we did."
The Lightning will now face the winner of the Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers second-round series in the Eastern Conference Finals, per Stubbs.
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