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04/13/2014 7:17 PM EDT
Lightning earn home-ice edge against Canadiens
TAMPA BAY 1, WASHINGTON 0 (OT)

By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It came right down to the final moment of the
final regular-season game for the Tampa Bay Lightning to secure
home-ice advantage against the Montreal Canadiens in the first
round of the playoffs.

"Let's not kid ourselves: We still have to go in and play. It
doesn't matter where you play - the better team's going to win
the game - but it is nice to go home, sleep in your own bed,
play in front of your home fans," Lightning captain Steven
Stamkos said. "You work so hard for 82 games, and it comes down
to the last shot of the game in a shootout to attain that goal."

Matthew Carle scored the only goal, Anders Lindback sealed his
first shutout of the season by stopping attempts by Alex
Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the
tiebreaker, and the Lightning edged the Washington Capitals 1-0
in the teams' regular-season finale on Sunday.

"I'm glad I could deliver," said Carle, who put the puck past
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.

The victory clinched second place in the Atlantic Division for
Tampa Bay, which finished with 101 points, one more than
Montreal.

"They really wanted to get over that century mark in points,"
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said about his players. "Everybody
was genuinely excited for each other. That's what makes it fun."

Tampa Bay will host Montreal in Game 1 on Wednesday night. The
Canadiens were idle Sunday, after closing their regular season
with a 1-0 overtime victory over the New York Rangers on
Saturday night.

"You hear stories from when they went on their run," Carle said,
"and the building sounds like it gets pretty rowdy."

Ovechkin finished with an NHL-leading 51 goals, but he also had
a minus-35 rating, and the Capitals failed to make the playoffs
for the first time since 2006-07, his second season in the
league.

"It's weird," Ovechkin said. "It's kind of a hard moment to
realize you're not going to be in the playoffs and you're not
going to fight for the Stanley Cup."

His between-the-legs attempt in the shootout was blocked by
Lindback, and Ovechkin wound up 2 for 16 in tiebreakers this
season. The Capitals played in an NHL-record 21 shootouts this
season, going 10-11 in those games.

"A lot of `em," said Capitals coach Adam Oates, who has one year
left on his contract. "There's a lot of points there."

Washington finished with 90 points, three fewer than Detroit,
which got the last wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern
Conference.

Asked about recent speculation about his job status, Oates said:
"For me, you know what? All you can really do, all I focused on,
is doing my job. Doing the best I can. And don't worry about
it."

Washington already had been eliminated but won four games in a
row before Sunday.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, heads into the postseason on a four-game
winning streak.

While Cooper explained beforehand that he wanted to win to
secure the higher playoff seeding, he also knew he needed to
rest injured players such as center Valtteri Filppula and left
wing Ondrej Palat.

"We want those guys to be ready for Wednesday. We're taking
every step to make sure that happens," Cooper said. "I can't sit
here and say they're going to play on Wednesday. But they will
be better Wednesday than they are today."

Notes: Cooper said he didn't think LW Ryan Malone's DUI and
cocaine possession charges would be a distraction to the team.
"Ryan is probably a little embarrassed of what's gone on. He
made a poor decision, getting behind the wheel when he had
alcohol in his system," Cooper said. "But for me, I've watched
all the good decisions Ryan Malone's made in his life, and how
charitable he's been and what a staple he's been in our
community in the years he's been here. I hope this one instance
doesn't take away from that, because he's been a class act for
us, on and off the ice." Malone didn't travel with the team to
Washington. His playoff status isn't known. ... Ovechkin and
Backstrom tied for the team lead in points with 79. ... Tampa
Bay C Tyler Johnson briefly stayed down on the ice in the second
period and hunched over as he skated off, but he returned to
action.

---

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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