The Montreal Canadiens are officially the first team to move on to the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs this year.
Montreal pulled ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning early in game four, and were able to hand on for a 4-3 victory, and complete the sweep of Tampa Bay.
The Habs opened the scoring just 2:24 into the first period, when both Lightning defenders chased Dale Weise to the corner, and he set up Daniel Briere in the slot. Briere made no mistake taking his time and roofing the puck over an outstretched Anders Lindback who had no chance of making the save.
Montreal extended their lead to two when Brian Gionta made a great play on a backcheck, and knocked the puck off Cedrick Paquette’s stick in the neutral zone. Gionta sent Lars Eller in on a rush with Rene Bourque and Eller let a blistering shot go that beat Lindback to the low glove side.
Ondrej Palat pulled the Lightning within one on a controversial shorthanded goal. He picked up a loose puck in front of the Canadiens goal and circled around the Habs net before trying to tuck the puck into the goal. Price got his pad on the original shot and kept it out, but as Palat and Habs defenseman Josh Gorges crashed the goal, the puck and Price himself landed in the net.
It appeared Palat used his stick to shove Price into the net, but the goal would stand, and it appeared the Lightning had life for the first time in the game. That did not last long.
Just 1:10 later Brendan Gallagher collected a pass from Plekanec and let go a shot very similar to the one Eller used to beat Lindback, and suddenly the game was 3-1 and Lindback was pulled in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.
Gudlevskis would be phenomenal in relief, stopping the first 16 shots he faced, including several glorious chances by the Habs to put the game out of reach. However, the Latvian goaltender did not allow the game to get out of reach, and the Lightning would make a comeback in the third period.
Victor Hedman scored his first goal of the series 3:29 into the third frame, and would cut the Habs lead to 3-2. Just over three minutes later, Lightning rookie Tyler Johnson would gather a rebound and snap it behind Carey Price, tying the game at three apiece.
The score would remain tied until the final minutes when Lightning rookie Cedric Paquette was whistled for tripping with just over two minutes to play. The Canadiens power play, which was 2-12 on the series, went to work. With just 43 seconds to play in the game, Max Pacioretty banged in a rebound and gave the Habs a 4-3 victory and a 4-0 series win.
The Canadiens now move on to the second round of the postseason where they will face the winner of the series between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins.