BY MARK DIDTLER
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Adam Erne made a strong case for more playing time with the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 23-year-old forward scored twice in the third period, including the go-ahead goal with 1:02 left, and the Lightning extended their point streak to 14 games with a 6-5 victory Saturday night over the Montreal Canadiens.
After tying it 5-all at 9:36 of the third, Erne got the winner from the right circle.
“Late in the game we wanted to work the puck down low in their zone and make sure we didn’t turn it over,” he said.
The left wing had been scratched in eight of the previous 15 games.
“I’m just trying to earn my spot,” Erne said. “Each night it’s an opportunity to prove to the coaches and the management staff that I can be in the lineup each night.”
Nikita Kucherov extended his point streak to 10 games (six goals, 15 assists) with a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. He is the 14th player in NHL history to post multiple point streaks of 10 or more games in consecutive seasons. The only other player to do so since 1994-95 is Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (2007-08 and 2008-09).
The Lightning, who are 13-0-1 during their current run, also got goals from Yanni Gourde, Anton Stralman and Tyler Johnson. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves.
Tampa Bay (30-7-2) has 62 points through 39 games, the same amount as the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who set the NHL record for most points in a season with 132.
This is the fastest Tampa Bay has reached 30 victories.
Andrew Shaw had two goals, and Kenny Agostino, Jordie Benn and Brett Kulak also scored for the Canadiens. Phillip Danault had three assists, and Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots.
Montreal was coming off a 5-3 win Friday night at Florida.
“There’s a lot of good things,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “This is a team that was waiting for us. They’re the best team in the league right now, and I thought with a little bit of luck we could have easily got out of here with one, maybe two points.”
Goals by Kulak, his first in 31 games, and Shaw in a 52-second span gave the Canadiens a 5-4 advantage with 6:49 left in the second.
Kucherov had a power-play goal and Johnson added one at even strength 38 seconds later as Tampa Bay grabbed a 4-3 lead 8½ minutes into the second.
Montreal took a 2-0 lead midway through the first when Shaw, on the power play, and Agostino scored 16 seconds apart.
After Tampa Bay got goals from Gourde and Stralman, Benn ended a 27-game goal drought to put the Canadiens up 3-2 with 2:25 left in the first.
Benn’s goal came 28 seconds after Gourde scored.
Montreal was without goalie Carey Price for the second consecutive game. The 301-game winner has a lower-body injury and didn’t make the trip.
NOTES: Chicago senior adviser Scotty Bowman, who coached the Stanley Cup champion Canadiens in 1976-77, was at the game. … Kucherov has three goals and eight assists over his last three games. … Agostino halted a 17-game goal drought. … Tampa Bay D Mikhail Sergachev played after he was hit on the left knee by a shot Thursday. … Stralman got his first goal in 16 games.
Canadiens: Play at Dallas on Monday night. Price will also sit out that game.
Lightning: Start a three-game trip Monday night at Anaheim.
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