Two goals from Max Pacioretty helped the Montreal Canadiens to an emphatic 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the Habs closed in on the Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins.
Pacioretty, who played under Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher last season for the Hamilton Bulldogs, scored twice from close range, while Steven Stamkos failed to beat Carey Price, who made 43 saves.
Pacioretty wasn’t the only former Bulldog to score as David Desharnais struck following Hal Gill’s opener to give the Canadiens a two-goal advantage.
The Habs could have taken a four-goal lead into the first intermission had Dwayne Roloson not stopped Andrei Kostitsyn and Brian Gionta with two huge saves.
Pacioretty now has 20 points since the turn of the year, including four during the road-trip to the southeast.
Desharnais has now struck 8 times this season. With the Habs missing so many faces in defence, their offence is starting to come together. Andrei Kostitsyn has 8 points in his last six games, while the Canadiens have won their last four games.
Next up for Montreal is a crunch game at the Bell Centre against the Boston Bruins. Last time the teams met, the Bruins won 8-6 after 192 penalty minutes were called in a fierce game in Boston.
A win for Montreal would close the gap between the two sides to three points after Boston lost 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime.
Montreal’s youngsters may be finding the net with ease, but in the closing stages of the season, the Habs’ experienced players will need to up their game if they are to guarantee their place in the post-season.