(The Sports Xchange) - Yanni Gourde scored twice to help the Tampa Bay Lightning stay alive in the playoff race with a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday at the Bell Centre.
Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn also scored for Tampa Bay (41-30-10), which sits one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild-card spot and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning have one game remaining and the Maple Leafs play twice.
Dwight King and Artturi Lehkonen scored for Montreal (46-26-9), which closes out its regular season on Saturday in Detroit.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots for Tampa Bay. Carey Price made 18 saves for Montreal.
Tampa Bay’s desperation was on full display early. The Lightning jumped out to a 6-0 shot advantage before the game was four minutes old. But Price was ready, coming up with several big stops, including back-to-back saves on Kucherov and Michael Bournival.
A fortunate bounce set the table for the Lightning to open the scoring at 11:42 of the first period. Kucherov skated down the ice before cutting into the slot. His shot hit the crossbar and bounced out to Gourde in the right circle, who quickly wired it into an open net.
Kucherov put Tampa Bay up by two with 10 seconds remaining in the period. Ondrej Palat sent a Hail Mary pass through from inside his own end to Kucherov at the Canadiens’ blue line, who then sniped his 40th goal of the season from the bottom of the left circle.
King notched his first goal in a Canadiens uniform to cut the lead in half at 9:59 of the second. Lehkonen took advantage of a slow change by the Lightning for a stretch pass out to King, who was coming on the ice, and the winger skated in alone to beat Vasilevskiy five-hole.
Killorn restored the two-goal lead less than five minutes later when he outskated Brandon Davidson before lifting the puck upstairs.
Lehkonen brought Montreal within one at 4:36 of the third with a shorthanded strike from the goal line that went top shelf into the net.
But Gourde once again put Tampa Bay ahead by two just 21 seconds later when he was uncovered in the left circle to convert a Cory Conacher feed.
Compiled by Peter Rutherford