Canadiens 5, Lightning 1
MONTREAL (AP) _ Patrice Brisebois scored twice and the Montreal Canadiens remained tied for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
The Canadiens (35-37-9-4) kept pace with Buffalo, which won 5-0 in New Jersey. Each team has 83 points, but the Sabres have two games remaining, while Montreal has only one _ Saturday night at home against Ottawa.
If the Canadiens and Sabres end the season tied in points and wins, the playoff spot will be decided by goal differential, because the other tiebreaker is head-to-head play and it was tied 2-2.
Sheldon Souray, Turner Stevenson and Dainius Zubrus also scored for Montreal, which chased Lightning starter Dieter Kochen at 11:13 of the second period in favor of Zac Bierk.
Todd Warriner scored for Tampa Bay, 19-52-9-7.
The Canadiens jumped on the lowly Lightning early, outshooting them 10-3 in the opening period. Souray blasted a point shot through traffic and past Kochen 1:12 into the game. Brisebois got lucky when his chip shot toward the net went in off defenseman Ben Clymer’s hand.
Stevenson finished a 2-on-1 with Patrick Poulin midway in the second period and Zubrus beat Kochen from the left side at 11:13. Brisebois’ point shot deflected past Bierk off a Tampa defenseman at 15:57.
Warriner ended Jeff Hackett’s bid for shutouts on consecutive nights when he tipped in Vincent Lecavalier’s pass 4:51 into the third period. Hackett had blanked the Rangers 3-0 in New York on Wednesday.
Lightning defenseman Marek Posmyk left in the first period Thursday with a bruised neck after a collision with a teammate. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays.
Lecavalier left late in the third with a bruised ankle.