(The Sports Xchange) - Having lost two straight and facing the possibility of a Game Seven on the road in Montreal, the Tampa Bay Lightning buckled down and closed out their Eastern Conference semi-final with a 4-1 win over the Canadiens at their Amalie Arena on Tuesday.
Goaltender Ben Bishop stopped the first 18 shots he faced as the Lightning wrapped up the series 4-2 and advanced to the conference final for just the third time.
Tampa Bay, who raced to a 3-0 series lead but saw that cushion cut after two losses, secured the clinching win without right winger Ryan Callahan, who was sidelined after an emergency appendectomy late on Monday.
Fans held up signs with his “24” jersey number in the stands while his team mates played with purpose and confidence.
Tampa Bay got three more goals from the red-hot line of Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, with Kucherov opening the scoring in the first period and closing it out with an empty netter late in the third.
Palat scored in the second period, as did Steven Stamkos to make it 3-0 heading into the third.
Bishop outdueled Montreal goalie Carey Price, who had stepped up in the Canadiens’ two wins. Tampa Bay did not give up a goal until Montreal winger Max Pacioretty scored with 4:57 left in the final period.
Editing by Cameron French/Peter Rutherford