Richards' second goal of the game, scored 1:05 into overtime,
gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 win Tuesday night over Montreal and lifted the
Lightning to a 3-0 lead in the second-round playoff series.
"It's a scenario that you lie in bed and dream about when
you're a kid," Richards said. "It's unbelievable. An overtime
goal in the playoffs is great anywhere, but to do it in Montreal,
it's just so much fun."
With one more victory, the Lightning will reach the conference
finals for the first time in their 12-year NHL history. That could
come as early as Thursday night's Game 4 in Montreal.
Vincent Lecavalier scored his fifth goal of the series with 16.5
seconds remaining in regulation to get the Lightning into overtime.
It was there that Tampa Bay got its sixth straight playoff win.
"We must hold some kind of record on having goals scored on us
late in a game like that," Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray
said. "But we weren't defeated at that point, that's for sure."
The Lightning, who won the final three games of their
first-round series against the New York Islanders, didn't take long
to finish off the Canadiens in overtime.
Richards, who scored his second goal of the playoffs to put
Tampa Bay up 2-1 in the second period, got his own rebound and
banked a shot from behind the goal line off the left skate of
goalie Jose Theodore and into the net for the winner.
"When you win, you don't need to say if, and you don't have to go through the plays over and over again," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. "Hopefully we can find some positive things and take everything we can from this game for the next one."
"I think the most important thing in playoff hockey is handling
those type of situations," Lightning coach John Tortorella said.
"We always talk about surges, we always talk about those types of
plays -- they come back and score two in the third period, but we
still have time."
The Lightning have won two playoff series in their history, one
in each of the last two years, but have never advanced with a
Lecavalier, who scored four goals in the first two games of the
series, forced overtime when he stuck his stick through his legs to
redirect Dave Andreychuk's pass behind Theodore at 19:43.
The enthusiastic sellout crowd let out a stunned gasp as
Lecavalier banged his stick against the glass behind the net while
Richards joined him in celebration.
"It would have been great against the Islanders or anywhere,"
Lecavalier said. "Any time you score a goal late in the game and
then win in overtime, it feels great. It's always special to play
in Montreal in front of friends and family."
NHL scoring champion Martin St. Louis and Lecavalier, both
Montreal natives, had plenty of supporters in attendance, though
they had little chance of being heard over the partisan crowd.
"It's loud," said Fredrik Modin, who assisted on Richards'
overtime goal. "It is so loud in there, and there is so much
energy floating around in that rink. It was a lot of fun to play
The Canadiens came out aggressively in the first period, when
referees Paul Devorski and Rob Shick handed out 34 minutes in
penalties, including nine minors against Montreal.
"We knew we had our hands full right from the get-go,"
Stillman scored on his second straight breakaway chance 58
seconds into the Canadiens' second power play of the game, 8:41
into the middle period.
The Canadiens tied it on the same power play when Alexei Kovalev scored his sixth goal of the playoffs 52 seconds later.
Richards quieted the crowd again when he put a point shot past
Theodore on a power play at 12:24.
Ryder, the league's rookie scoring leader during the season,
scored his first goal in 10 playoff games 10:32 into the third to
tie it at 2-all.
Brisebois gave the Canadiens hope of getting back into the
series when he beat Khabibulin with 2:47 left on a shot from the
right boards after Jim Dowd won a faceoff in Tampa Bay's zone.
Lightning D Dan Boyle was in the lineup two days after
leaving Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory in Game 2 with an upper-body
injury. ... Montreal is 0-3 in overtime in the playoffs. The
Canadiens also lost Game 2 to the Bruins before overcoming a 3-1
series deficit for the first time in the franchise's long history.