Series (Game 4 of 4)

Tampa Bay leads 3-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 12th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 22nd
Game 3: Saturday, March 15th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 2nd

Canadiens 1

(29-35-9, 75 pts)

Lightning 2

(36-23-5, 93 pts)

7:00 PM ET, April 2, 2003

Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

1 2 3 T
MTL 1 0 01
TB 1 1 02

N. Khabibulin (Lightning - G): Saves: 26, Save Pct.: .963

C. Sarich (Lightning - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

V. Prospal (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Khabibulin's unbeaten streak reaches 16 games

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are hoping to go far in their first postseason appearance in seven years, and Nikolai Khabibulin appears ready to carry them there.


The All-Star goaltender made 26 saves and extended his career-best unbeaten streak to 16 games as Tampa Bay beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Cory Sarich scored the go-ahead goal in the second, and Vinny Prospal tied a career high with his 22nd goal for the Lightning, who are 7-0-6 in their past 13 games and are approaching the first division championship in their 11-year history.

Tampa Bay leads Washington by three points with two games remaining for each team in a race for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and home-ice advantage in their anticipated first-round playoff series.

A victory by Ottawa at Washington on Thursday night would clinch the Southeast Division title for Tampa Bay.

"We're really excited, but it's not just about getting the division title,'' Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "It's about starting to win a playoff series.''

Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella thinks a showdown of top goalies will highlight a matchup with the Capitals.

"The biggest key going into the playoffs is goaltending,'' Tortorella said. "We're facing a good one in Washington, too, in that animal (Olaf) Kolzig when we play them.''

Khabibulin, who was 7-0-3 in March to earn NHL player of the month honors, is 12-0-4 since losing to the New York Islanders on Feb. 11. He has a 1.23 goals-against average and a .954 saves percentage during that span.

The last unbeaten streak longer than 16 games by an NHL goalie was 21 by Chris Osgood (19-0-2) for Detroit seven seasons ago. Khabibulin (30-21-11) also set a club record for victories.

Mathieu Garon (3-5-0) stopped 29 shots for Montreal.

"Tonight was a real intense game and a great goaltending duel,'' Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "The effort that the guys gave was positive, and you have to be happy with it.''

Center Jan Bulis scored the only Montreal goal 5:22 into the game.

Game notes

Three of Sarich's six career goals have been game-winners. ... A scattering of boos during the Canadian national anthem quickly was silenced by applause. ... Tampa Bay RW Ruslan Fedotenko returned with a face guard after having two teeth broken and taking 11 stitches in his lower lip during the first period. ... Thousands of tickets remain for the first two Lightning playoff games since 1996. Sales began March 10. ... Lightning C Brad Richards and Lecavalier had point-scoring streaks stopped at six and five games, respectively. ... With an assist, Montreal C Saku Koivu has three goals and three assists in four games against Tampa Bay. ... The Lightning won the season series 3-0-1.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press