MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens swept their way into the second round of the NHL playoffs, and now look forward to some rest.
The first team to advance, Montreal won the best-of-seven series with Tampa Bay 4-0 thanks to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night, and now faces a long wait for the Eastern Conference semifinal against the winner of the Boston-Detroit series.
Max Pacioretty got the winning goal with 43 seconds remaining on a power play. Pacioretty, who played for the United States at the Olympics in February, is glad to get some time off.
“Going to Sochi and not having much time off, I feel this is going to be a good chance for me to get in the weight room and find some strength for Round 2,” he said.
“We have to take advantage of it and try to stay sharp as a group at the same time,” added Canadiens captain Brian Gionta.
Pacioretty was in front of the net to whack Thomas Vanek’s rebound past Kristers Gudlevskis for the winner.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Pacioretty, a 39-goal scorer in the regular season who got his first of the series. “I’ve been in a bit of a drought since the end of the year. I’ve been getting opportunities and missing my chances. But you wait for that bounce and I got it.”
It was Montreal’s first sweep since beating Buffalo in four games in 1993 en route to the last of its record 24 Stanley Cups.
The Canadiens built a 3-1 lead on goals from Daniel Briere, Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher.
Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. Victor Hedman pulled the Lightning within one goal three minutes into the third period, and Tyler Johnson tied the game three minutes later.
Lightning backup Gudlevskis replaced Anders Lindback after Gallagher’s goal 5:42 into the second period. Lindback gave up three goals on 20 shots, while Gudlevskis stopped 16 of 17 shots in relief.
Lightning star Steven Stamkos didn’t like the penalty call that set up the decisive goal, but didn’t dispute the Canadiens had the better of play for most of the series.
“We played like we had nothing to lose in the third,” said Stamkos. “We were the better team.”
Tampa Bay’s rookie-laden lineup could not keep pace with Montreal. The Lightning also played the series without No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop, who has a left arm injury.
For a second straight game, the Bell Centre was at a fever pitch. And while it took Rene Bourque only 11 seconds to score the first goal in Game 3, this time it took 2:24 for Briere to open the scoring.