Galchenyuk, Pacioretty score twice; Canadiens beat Lightning
MONTREAL (AP) If there was a bright spot to a disappointing season for the Montreal Canadiens, it was the emergence of Alex Galchenyuk as a top-line center.
Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty each scored twice to reach the 30-goal mark, and the Canadiens beat the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Saturday night.
Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal (38-38-6), which missed the playoffs for the second time in nine years. Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, also had an assist and finished with a career-best 56 points.
''He's always had the skill,'' Pacioretty said. ''As far as improving his game and being a No. 1 center, it was a matter of mindset and playing the right way.
''He really started to show that and impress all of us - a lot.''
Galchenyuk has been brought along slowly by coach Michel Therrien, playing mostly at left wing in his first three NHL campaigns. But placed at center with Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher late in the season, the slick playmaker and shooter blossomed.
At 22, Galchenyuk is the third-youngest Canadien to score 30 in a season after Bernard Geoffrion in 1951-52 and Stephane Richer in 1987-88.
''It's a good thing I didn't know about that,'' he said. ''I didn't want any extra things in my head.
''When I got on a hot streak I wasn't thinking much. Then I had 26, 27 goals and people started talking about 30. I'm glad I did it.''
Jonathan Drouin scored his second in as many games since returning to the Lightning from the minors. Ondrej Palat also scored for the Lightning, who open the playoffs Wednesday at home against Detroit.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper, already missing Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman and others to injuries, was livid at a play that may have cost him another top player in the first period when center Tyler Johnson was helped off the ice after crashing headfirst into the boards.
Johnson was shoved by Greg Pateryn, lost his footing and fell into the boards. He did not return because of an upper-body injury. Pateryn got a major and a game misconduct for boarding.
''The one thing about this game and why we all love this game is there's honor and respect,'' Cooper said. ''That kid (Pateryn) had a blatant disregard for both.
''That was egregious, what happened, and there's no place for it. Hopefully (Johnson) is going to be OK. I'm not sure how this is going to end up or how hurt he is, I haven't been in the trainer's room. But those are season-ending, those could be career-ending the way that went down.''
The Lightning looked to be coasting through the first two periods and even the Johnson injury didn't wake them up right away.
''You've got to be ready to play an NHL game in an NHL building and we weren't,'' center Brian Boyle said. ''Weird things happen when you don't prepare mentally the same way, but hopefully (Johnson) is OK.''
Montreal outshot Tampa Bay 29-22.
Galchenyuk's 29th goal of the season was an easy one into an open net after Brendan Gallagher slipped the puck in front following a misplay behind the net by goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
With the teams each down a man after Pateryn's penalty, Plekanec was sent in alone by Lars Eller and scored at 16:27.
Pacioretty scored on a wrist shot 27 seconds into the second period and Galchenyuk ripped in his second of the game from the right circle on a power play at 3:44.
Tampa Bay had Mike Blundin's goal called back for goalie interference early in the third but finally broke Mike Condon's shutout bid at 6:37 when Palat scored with a blast from the left side.
Drouin was alone at the edge of the crease to slide in a feed from Matthew Carle at 13:00.
NOTES: The game was short on star power, with Montreal goalie Carey Price, star defenseman P.K. Subban and others out with injuries. Tampa Bay was missing Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ryan Callahan, Stralman and Nikita Kucherov. ... Galchenyuk won the Canadiens player of the year award. Speedy winger Paul Byron was named the team's unsung hero. ... Montreal center Brian Flynn, who has not played since Feb. 9 with a lower-body injury, returned for the season finale.