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Lightning keep playoff hopes alive with win over Canadiens

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn scores a goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price during the second period at the Bell Centre in Montreal, on April 7, 2017.

Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports

Rookie Yanni Gourde scored two goals and Nikita Kucherov got his 40th goal of the season as the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

Alex Killorn also scored for the Lightning (41-30-10), who need to win their final regular season game Sunday against Buffalo and have Toronto and the New York Islanders lose to take the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay was coming off a win Thursday night in Toronto.

Dwight King and Artturi Lehkonen scored for the Canadiens (46-25-9), who end the regular season Saturday night in Detroit. Montreal opens the playoffs Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.

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Montreal outshot Tampa Bay 29-22.

The desperate Bolts faced a Canadiens team that had already clinched first place in the Atlantic Division and rested three banged up starting defencemen – Shea Weber, Jordie Benn and Alexei Emelin.

Kucherov could have had three goals in the first period.

The 23-year-old Russian was robbed by Carey Price 3:59 into the game, then froze the Montreal defence on a rush and hit a post from the slot at 11:42, but Gourde fired in the rebound to open the scoring.

At 19:50, Ondrej Palat flipped a pass into the neutral zone that the speeding Kucherov controlled with a quick slap of the stick before beating Price inside the near post.

Lehkonen found King coming off the bench with a stretch pass. The former Los Angeles King went in alone to beat Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pads for his first goal in 16 games as a Canadien at 9:59 of the second frame.

Killorn got it back at 14:19 on a rush after Cory Conacher forced a turnover at the Tampa Bay blue line.

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Lehkonen saw his pass go in off a skate at 4:36 of the third but, only 21 seconds later, Gourde was left alone on the left side and put a Conacher pass into an open side for a fifth goal in his last seven games.

Tribute was paid in the first period to three Canadian athletes who won world championships in the winter season – cross country skier Alex Harvey, alpine skier Erik Guay and snowboarder Laurie Blouin.

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