MONTREAL — The Tampa Bay Lightning moved within one win of repeating as Stanley Cup champions with a 6-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the Final at Bell Centre on Friday.
Tyler Johnson scored twice, Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov each had a goal and an assist, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for Tampa Bay.
Phillip Danault, Nick Suzuki and Corey Perry scored for Montreal, which hosted its first Cup Final game since June 9, 1993, when the Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 at the Montreal Forum to win the Cup for an NHL-record 23rd time. Carey Price made 24 saves.
The Lightning have outscored the Canadiens 14-5 in the series.
Teams that take a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 Cup Final are 26-1 (.963) winning the series. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings in 1942 after losing the first three games.
Game 4 is here Monday.
Jan Rutta became the first NHL player to score a regular season or Stanley Cup Playoff goal in July when he put Tampa Bay up 1-0 at 1:52 of the first period with a high wrist shot from the right point.
Hedman made it 2-0 with a power-play goal on a slap shot from the top of the slot at 3:27.
After Cole Caufield‘s shot went off the left post at 7:29, the Canadiens gained some momentum, and Danault cut the lead to 2-1 at 11:16 when he scored on a wrist shot from the left side as Brendan Gallagher drove to the net.
Kucherov, who got his 24th assist of the postseason on Hedman’s goal, made it 3-1 with his eighth goal at 1:40 of the second period.
Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak hit Ondrej Palat at the Montreal blue line with a stretch pass to set up a two-man breakaway, and Kucherov scored with a backhand.
Johnson put the Lightning up 4-1 at 3:33, but Suzuki drew Montreal within 4-2 at 18:04 with a wrist shot under Vasilevskiy’s right pad from the right side.
Johnson scored his second of the game at 15:19 of the third period to make it 5-2.
Perry cut it to 5-3 at 15:58 with Price pulled for an extra skater.
Blake Coleman scored into an empty net at 16:48 for the 6-3 final.
Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme returned after missing the previous six games and spending 14 days in quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test June 18.
The Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in six games last season to win the Cup for the second time.