Alexander Radulov's OT goal lifts Montreal Canadiens over Tampa Bay Lightning

By Erik Erlendsson, The Sports Xchange
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save. File photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save. File photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Montreal Canadiens took one step closer to clinching another division title. The Lightning took a minor step back in their pursuit of a playoff spot.

Alexander Radulov scored the overtime winner with a one-timer from the right circle 51 seconds into the extra period to give Montreal a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday at Amalie Arena.


Carey Price finished with 21 saves for Montreal. Phillip Danault scored the Canadiens' first goal.

Yanni Gourde scored the tying goal for Tampa Bay in the third period. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots in regulation and finished with 34.

The victory opened an eight-point lead for the Canadiens, who clinched a playoff spot in their previous game and now sit atop the Atlantic Division ahead of Ottawa and Toronto.


"I was actually really proud with the way the guys handled themselves tonight," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "You clinch a playoff spot, there's always that chance of a letdown when you're playing a real desperate team that was going to give us a playoff type game. We were ready for it. It goes to the players' focus and all that stuff. They deserve the credit when it comes to the way they handled themselves tonight."

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, remains ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, four points behind Boston with a game in hand on the Bruins for the final wild card.

"I look at (Saturday) as a complete positive that we get a point out of a game that you can sit here and say they were better than us tonight," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I guess there is not much wiggle room left, but not getting a point out of this game would have been devastating and we found a way."

The Canadiens took the lead midway through the second, taking advantage of a Tampa Bay gaffe around the Lightning net. As Victor Hedman came out from the corner with the puck, he found himself under pressure and tried to leave the puck for Vasilevskiy to cover up.


But the Tampa Bay goaltender was handcuffed and failed to get his glove over the puck. As the puck remained free in the crease, Danault was able to get his stick on it and poke it under the pads for a 1-0 Montreal lead at 14:24 of the second period.

"I always tell (Danault) the points are kind of icing on the cake the way he plays," Montreal captain Max Pacioretty said. "He's always in great support, great position, always in great defensive zone position. So it's really nice to see him get rewarded and contribute because he does so much ... stuff away from the puck

But the Lightning, who has allowed the opening goal in eight consecutive games, found another way to get back even midway through the third.

With Tampa Bay showing a rare extended shift in the Montreal zone, Jonathan Drouin found Hedman at the left point. As Hedman unleashed a slap shot, the puck deflected off a Montreal stick and then off the shin pad of Gourde, who has scored goals in three consecutive games, to tie the score at 11:38.

"It was a grind tonight, they play very tight and there was not much room out there," Gourde said.


In the overtime, Montreal scored just after Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov missed a 2-on-1 chance off a feed from Brayden Point.

"We got the right guy in the right spot, the puck on the stick and it's too bad (because) it rolls on him at the very end," Cooper said.

The Canadiens came right back down the ice and Pacioretty was able to find Radulov alone at the right circle for the winning goal.

"Got stuck out there, but saw Rady coming off the bench, tried to make a backhand pass to him," Pacioretty said. "It got knocked down, but then I knew it was going to keep going. It was a chemistry play in the sense where we were feeling each other."

NOTES: Montreal LW Max Pacioretty registered his 200th and 201st career assists. ... The Lightning sent LW Joel Vermin, who is on an emergency recall, back to AHL's Syracuse on Saturday morning, but recalled him 20 minutes later. ... Former Tampa Bay D Nikita Nesterov was a healthy scratch in his return to Tampa for the first time since being traded to Montreal in January. Nesterov has not played since Feb. 28. ... Montreal scratched LW Torrey Mitchell (flu), D Jordie Benn (upper body), G Al Montoya (upper body), C Brian Flynn and C Steve Ott. ... Tampa Bay hoped to have either C Steven Stamkos (knee) or C Tyler Johnson (lower body) back in the lineup, but neither were ready to return. ... Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov returned after missing Thursday's game due to illness. ... The overtime goal by Alexander Radulov was his first in overtime since Feb. 2, 2008.


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