The Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team in the East to advance to the conference final after a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night in Florida. Tampa Bay awaits the winner of Game 7 between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
After winning the first three games of the series, Tampa Bay watched the Canadiens storm back to win the next two to keep their season alive. However, the Lightning surely did not want to go back to Montreal for a Game 7 and came out firing on all cylinders in Game 6.
Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring late in the first period before Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat tallied second-period goals to push the Lightning lead to 3-0. Max Pacioretty put the Canadiens on the board with 4:57 remaining in the game, but it was too little too late. Kucherov potted the game’s final goal into the empty net with 2:01 remaining to seal the victory.
Tampa Bay returns to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since the 2011 season. They lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games before the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup. Only two players remain on the Lightning roster from that playoff series, defenseman Victor Hedman and Stamkos.