- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

MONTREAL (AP) - The Montreal Canadiens looked as if they would cruise to an easy win when Rene Bourque scored only 11 seconds into the game.

But the Canadiens needed a third-period goal from Tomas Plekanec and some fine saves from Carey Price to down the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Sunday night and take a 3-0 lead in their NHL Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

The victory gave Montreal a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with a chance to sweep the Lightning on home ice in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

“We’ve seen many scenarios in the playoffs and we have to have the same approach for the next game as we had for the last three,” said Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban, who had a pair of assists. “They’re a good team.

“They had a lot of opportunities to score. They fought their way back into the game. They put pucks on the net and came hard to the end. We know they’ll fight until the final buzzer, so we have to be ready next game.”

Brendan Gallagher also scored for Montreal. Ondrej Palat, back after missing a game with an injury, and defenseman Matthew Carle scored for Tampa Bay.

Montreal outshot the Lightning 31-29, but there were tense moments and a disputed, disallowed goal as the visitors pushed back in the second and third periods.

“We were determined, we played with passion, I thought we responded unreal,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s tough to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye.

“Clearly, that was the best game we’ve played in this series. I though they deserved a better fate. Ultimately, it’s a loss and that’s what hurts the most.”

The Canadiens have a chance to get even for their only previous playoff meeting with the Lightning, who swept them in 2004 before going on to win the Stanley Cup.

After winning the first two games in Tampa, Fla., the Canadiens returned to a rousing welcome from their fans and a spectacular pre-game show.

The crowd of 21,273 was still roaring after joining old-time Quebec pop singer Ginette Reno in the Canadian anthem when Subban bounced a pass up the middle of the ice and Bourque collected it behind the Lightning defense.

The unexpected scoring source got his third of the series past Anders Lindback at the 11-second mark - and the noise got even louder.

“I didn’t really know who (Reno) was, but by the reaction I knew it was somebody popular,” Bourque said. “She did a great job getting the fans fired up.

“We didn’t plan it at all. It was a lucky bounce.”

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