Knights, Lighting closing in after NHL playoff wins

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Dan Girardi scored 3:18 into overtime to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins and a 3-1 lead in their NHL playoff series.

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos had knotted the score at 3-3 with seven minutes left in regulation and the Lighting -- who saw an early 2-0 lead erased -- held on to move within one win of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.

Braden Point and Nikita Kucherov had given the Lighting a 2-0 lead before the Bruins responded with three straight goals -- one from David Pastrnak and two from Patrice Bergeron.

After Stamkos tied it, Girardi sealed the Lighting win when he got his stick on a pass from Alex Killorn that was deflected off Brian Gionta's skate in the crease.

"I was kind of deep in the zone and I saw they made a good play at the blue line to have control, and I kind of just beat my guy up the ice a little bit, got on the right side of him," Girardi said. "And (Killorn) made a great slice at the net there and just luckily it hit my stick and I was kind of set up in my office in front of the net there."

In the West, the Vegas Golden Knights were also on the brink of a series victory after withstanding a late comeback bid by the Sharks in San Jose.

Alex Tuch scored two goals and James Neal and Erik Haula added one apiece in the 5-3 victory -- capped by Jonathan Marchessault empty-netter.

Neal opened the scoring with three seconds left in the first period, slotting a rebound into a wide-open net to give Vegas an early 2-0 lead.

Tuch scored a power play goal on a rebound attempt in the second, then slid the puck past Sharks goalie Martin Jones for his second goal of the game and fourth of the playoffs.

San Jose pulled within one in the third, with goals from Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedker, but the Golden Knights, an expansion club playing their inaugural season, will have a chance to claim the series on Sunday in San Jose.