MONTREAL (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning owned the Montreal Canadiens all season.
Despite being depleted by injuries, the Lightning completed a five-game, season-series sweep of Montreal with a 5-3 victory on Monday night.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop had two assists, Vladislav Namestnikov scored two goals, and Tampa Bay clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
Bishop started plays that set up breakaway goals by Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin in the second period. Nikita Kucherov and Anton Stralman also scored for Tampa Bay, which trails Atlantic Division-leading Montreal by one point.
The Lightning outscored the Canadiens 21-8 in the series sweep after being swept by Montreal in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
“Everyone keeps talking about last year’s playoffs, but we’re not thinking about that at all,” Lightning star Steven Stamkos said. “We’re focused on this year.
“It’s a great feat to beat a team, that’s first in the division, five times. It was a pretty gritty effort.”
Bishop, who made 25 saves, is the first goalie with two assists in a game since Buffalo’s Ryan Miller did it on Feb. 25, 2014.
“I’m not really looking for (assists), but if it helps the team, it helps the team,” Bishop said.
The NHL record of three was set by Calgary’s Jeff Reese against San Jose on Feb. 10, 1993.
Max Pacioretty, Jeff Petry and P.K. Subban scored for Montreal, which was outshot 31-13 through two one-sided periods and 44-28 overall. Carey Price stopped 39 shots.
The Canadiens managed to keep it close until Stralman’s empty-net goal in the final minute.
Pacioretty scoffed at the suggestion that Montreal doesn’t match up with Tampa Bay.
“I hope we play them in the playoffs, if people really think that passionately about it, because we have a lot to prove against that team,” the Canadiens’ scoring leader said. “They play very similar to us, and it’s not a matter of feeling uncomfortable.
“We play the same system as them. When they buy in, they have success. When we buy in, we have success. You saw the third period.”
The Lightning were coming off a 4-0 loss at Detroit in which defensemen Jason Garrison (out 3-to-4 weeks) and Andrej Sustr (1-to-2 weeks), and scoring star Tyler Johnson (day-to-day) sustained upper-body injuries.
They were already missing Brayden Coburn, and defenseman Victor Hedman left in the third period because of an undisclosed injury. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Hedman is questionable for Tuesday’s game at Toronto.
“It was a great team effort with the lineup we had,” Stamkos said.
Only 1:24 into the second, Bishop caught Montreal on a line change, and he hit Stamkos with a pass to the far blue line to send Namestnikov in alone.
Pacioretty tied it with a short-handed goal at 4:24 when he one-timed Tomas Plekanec’s pass.
Another Bishop stretch pass help Drouin break in alone, and he deked Price at 4:47. The Lightning intercepted a clearing attempt, and Kucherov swiped Namestnikov’s pass in at 18:07.
Petry scored from the point 23 seconds into the third period, but Ondrej Palat sent Namestnikov in to beat Price with a wrist shot at 6:21 to make it 4-2.
Subban set up a wild finish when he fired a shot in from the point on a power play with 3:50 left.
Price fell short in his bid to tie Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden for the Canadiens record of 42 wins in a season.
NOTES: Tampa Bay sent C Jonathan Marchessault to AHL Syracuse. … Montreal scratched RW Devante Smith-Pelley and D Sergei Gonchar. Tom Gilbert is day-to-day because of a fractured jaw.
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