TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tyler Johnson scored the go-ahead goal on a short-handed breakaway late in the third period and the Tampa Bay Lightning clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
The win, and losses by New Jersey and Washington, gave Tampa Bay its first postseason berth since 2011 and only its second in seven years. The Canadiens ended a five-game winning streak, but also qualified for the postseason by virtue of the losses by New Jersey and Washington.
With Nate Thompson serving a minor penalty for boarding, Johnson picked up a loose puck near the Montreal blue line, skated in on goalie Carey Price and backhanded a shot inside the left post with 7:19 remaining.
Tampa Bay was on a power play when Alex Killorn scored an empty-netter with 45 seconds to go.
Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher was on one knee in the low slot when he redirected a rebound past goalie Ben Bishop to open the scoring 10:18 into the first period.
Ryan Callahan made it 1-1 on a power play 9:19 into the second, skating through the left circle toward Price and lifting a shot high into the net.
Bishop finished with 25 saves, while Price stopped 30 shots.
The win pulled the Lightning into a tie with the Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic Division. The second- and third-place teams in each division will square off in the opening round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay has six games remaining and Montreal five with home-ice advantage in their likely best-of-seven postseason matchup at stake.
NOTES: Tampa Bay LW Ondrej Palat, who had two assists, was named the top NHL rookie for the second time in three months. The 23-year-old edged Johnson and three other forwards for the March award. . Montreal C Tomas Plekanec returned after missing one game for personal reasons. . The home team won for the first time in the four-game season series. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was sidelined with a broken leg for the first three games, each of which went to overtime tied at 1. . Price came in victorious in nine of his 10 previous starts. Bishop improved to 8-1-1 in his last 10.