TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos urged his teammates to not play “scared.”
The Lightning responded with their best performance of the playoffs, and now the team is headed to the Eastern Conference finals.
Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist, and Stamkos and Ondrej Palat also scored Tuesday night in a 4-1 victory that ended the Lightning’s second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens in six games.
“We were talking about this game like it was Game 7,” Stamkos said. “We clogged it up good in the third period. It was as good a defensive period as we’ve played.”
Palat also had a goal and assist for Tampa Bay, which played without Ryan Callahan, who had an emergency appendectomy Monday night.
Lightning goalie Bishop stopped 18 shots to outperform Montreal’s Carey Price, who finished with 24 saves.
“I didn’t play well enough,” Price said. “… We lost a lot of tight games. I just needed to make that one more save in all the games that we lost, and I didn’t do that.”
The Lightning, who won nine of 11 meetings against the Canadians this season, including playoffs, will face either the New York Rangers or Washington in the conference finals. Those teams meet in Game 7 of their series on Wednesday.
Montreal’s loss means the last of five Canadian-based teams that reached the postseason is eliminated from the playoffs. A Canadian-based team hasn’t won the Cup since the Canadiens did it in 1993.