TAMPA, Florida — Having lost two straight, facing the possibility of a Game 7 on the road, the Tampa Bay Lightning buckled down Tuesday night and did what they do best — win hockey games at home.

Goalie Ben Bishop, a former University of Maine standout, stopped the first 18 shots he faced and the Lightning eliminated the Montreal Canadiens from the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 4-1 win at Amalie Arena, taking the series 4-2 and advancing to the conference finals for just the third time in their history.

Tampa Bay, which had seen a 3-0 series lead shrink to 3-2, bounced back and played with confidence, despite having to go without right winger Ryan Callahan, sidelined after an emergency appendectomy Monday night. Fans proudly held up signs with his “24” jersey number in the stands, and his teammates played like a team with purpose.

Three more goals from the Lightning’s red-hot line of right winger Nikita Kucherov, left winger Ondrej Palat and center Tyler Johnson started and ended the Tampa Bay scoring. Kucherov opened the scoring in the first period and closed it out with an empty netter late in the third. Palat scored in the second period, as did center Steven Stamkos, making the score 3-0 heading into the third.

Bishop outdueled Montreal goalie Carey Price, who had stepped up in the Canadiens’ two wins. Tampa Bay didn’t give up a goal until Montreal left winger Max Pacioretty scored with 4:57 left in the final period.

Kucherov started things when he redirected a wide shot from Palat. The the puck squeezed just between Price and the near post for a 1-0 lead with 4:25 left in the first period.

Stamkos doubled the Lightning advantage just over five minutes into the second when he took a pass from forward Alex Killorn and beat Price with a wicked wrister from the slot through a defender for his third goal of the playoffs. Killorn picked up his sixth assist on the play.

Landing a power play with 1:22 left in the second period, the Lightning took advantage quickly, as Palat scored his third of the playoffs with 1:04 left, the assist coming on a drop pass from Kucherov.

The Lightning await the winner of Wednesday night’s Game 7 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Games 1 and 2 will be in Tampa with a Capitals win, or in New York if the Rangers advance.


Cavaliers 106, Bulls 101

CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving returned to his old self. LeBron James did, too.

James finished with 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, Irving scored 25 points despite battling injuries to both legs, and guard Iman Shumpert grabbed a crucial offensive rebound in the final minute of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 106-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday.

Cleveland grabbed a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

It is the first time either team won consecutive games in this series. The Cavaliers will attempt to close out the Bulls on Thursday night at United Center. If Chicago successfully defends its home court, Game 7 would be played Sunday in Cleveland.

The Bulls were again without forward Pau Gasol due to a hamstring injury, and forward Taj Gibson was ejected in the fourth quarter after a tie-up with Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova led to both teams tangling under the basket. Gibson appeared to push Dellavedova down while going for a rebound, while Dellavedova pinned Gibson’s left leg between both of his. Gibson kicked Dellavedova while trying to shake free, receiving a flagrant-2 foul and an ejection after officials separated both teams.

The confrontation was the first in a series that has been physical and rugged throughout.

Chicago guard Jimmy Butler had 29 points and nine rebounds, including a pair of late 3-pointers to give the Bulls hope, and guard Derrick Rose added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. However, 12 of Rose’s points came in the first quarter.

The Bulls head home trying once again to stave off elimination from James, who ended Chicago’s season in three of the past five years.

The Cavs took off following Gibson’s ejection, turning a 10-point game into a 90-73 lead on guard J.R. Smith’s 3-pointer with 9:26 left. The Cavs stopped scoring, however, allowing the Bulls to climb back in it.

A 3-pointer and a three-point play from forward Mike Dunleavy and consecutive 3-pointers from Butler pulled the Bulls within 101-99. Chicago had a chance to tie the game in transition, but James soared through the lane to swat away Rose’s attempt with 49 seconds left. Coming out of a timeout, Butler missed the chance to give the Bulls the lead on another 3-pointer, and Shumpert grabbed a huge offensive rebound at the other end off a James miss. Irving sank the two ensuing free throws, and the Cavs led 103-99 with 16 seconds left.

Irving twice referred to himself as a decoy in recent days as he fights through both a right foot strain and left knee tendinitis. He returned to his attacking ways Tuesday, however, finishing at the rim and finding his range again on 3-pointers after entering the night in a 5-for-23 shooting drought over his previous two games.

James hasn’t shot the ball well throughout this series, particularly on 3-pointers, so he gave up long-distance tries in the first half. James returned to his attacking ways, getting to the basket with ease for his most efficient offensive game of the series. He made five of his first six shots, scored the Cavs’ first 12 points of the second quarter and didn’t commit a turnover after he had 15 in the previous two games.

The Bulls have been prone to long offensive slumps throughout the series, and the problem struck again in the second quarter when they shot just 4-for-22, part of which was due to a swarming, aggressive Cleveland defense. The Bulls scored 49 points in the first half of Game 1, but their early production has since dropped in every successive game, culminating in a series-low 44 points in the first half Tuesday.