It might have been a different story if Vezina Trophy candidate Ben Bishop had been available, but in the end the Montreal Canadiens had too much for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Habs chased Anders Lindback for the second time in the 4 game series en route to a 4-3 win and 4 game sweep of their first round series.
Tampa put up a fight in the third period, scoring twice to erase a 3-1 deficit as Kristers Gudlevskis relieved Lindback and held the fort until a final minute power play goal by Max Pacioretty sent the Lightning home by themselves.
Daniel Briere scored early and Lars Eller late in the first period to pace the Canadiens to the lead. Ondrej Palat got one of those back with a shorthanded goal early in the second, but the Habs got it back on the same penalty, with Brendan Gallagher chasing Lindback before the 5 minute mark, the third goal on 20 shots.
Gudlevskis stopped the first 15 shots he faced, including breakaways by Pacioretty and Gallagher, and watched his team score twice in just over 3 minutes to even the score. First, Victor Hedman banked a shot in off Carey Price from behind the net, and then Tyler Johnson beat him from the hash marks.
It was the 16th shot that beat Gudlevskis, and it turned out to be the one that mattered. Pacioretty poked a loose puck between the legs and it trickled through for the series winner.
The Habs are the first team to claim a spot in round 2 and now await the winner of the Boston Bruins – Detroit Red Wings series, in a guaranteed original 6 matchup.