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Adam Erne lifts Lightning to comeback victory over Montreal Canadiens

Erne scores two goals in the third period as Tampa Bay wins 6-5.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times 
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Adam Erne (73) celebrates his winning goal during the third period of Saturday's (12/29/18) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Adam Erne (73) celebrates his winning goal during the third period of Saturday's (12/29/18) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Published Dec. 30, 2018
Updated Dec. 30, 2018

TAMPA — It's rare that Adam Erne turns in multi-goal games. Twice in his three years in the NHL, to be exact.

The Lightning is just fortunate that Saturday was one of those nights.

Erne scored two third-period goals, one of which came in the final two minutes of regulation, to lift the Lightning to a 6-5 victory over Montreal at Amalie Arena.

"It's one of those nights you dream about, being able to do that," Erne said.

A dream night, but also a night the Lightning needed from him. Tampa Bay trailed Montreal 5-4 heading into the third period. Montreal had scored two goals in less than a minute late in the second period from Brett Kulak and Andrew Shaw.

Then in the third, it came time for Erne to play hero.

As Erne crashed to the net, he scored off his backhand to tie the score at 5-5. He set the stage for him to once again come through for a Lightning team that was otherwise lethargic offensively in the first two periods.

Erne scored with 1:02 left in the game.

"Late in the game, we wanted to work the puck down low in their zone and make sure we didn't turn it over," Erne said. "(Yanni Gourde) was able to slip me the puck there, and I was just trying to put the puck on net."

He tried and succeeded, giving the Lightning 62 points on the season and extending their point streak to 14 games.

Part of why Erne only now has two multi-goal games in his career is because he has not been a lineup regular. He has played in 24 of 39 games this season, mainly because of how deep the Lightning is at forward. He has spent time with AHL Syracuse and Tampa Bay each of the past two seasons.

But this year, he has played solely for the Lightning.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper is not necessarily surprised at Erne's progression. Not all players can be Brayden Point and become all-stars in their second NHL season before they turn 22.

"There's a little bit of awe-struck when you get to the NHL," Cooper said. "You play your first game and it's, 'Holy cow, I made it.' Then that wears off and you have to understand the fight it took to get you to that spot, you need to keep doing that to stay in the lineup and play. Adam's been doing that. He's paid his dues in the minors and he's paid his dues here. He's put in a lot of work and he's being rewarded for it."

And he is rewarding the Lightning for keeping him in the fold.

In addition to his two goals, he also picked up an assist on the Lightning's first goal of the game. He rocketed the puck on net for Gourde to deflect into the Montreal net.

"He showed a lot of confidence with the puck," Gourde said, "it was really fun to watch."

Contact Nick Kelly at nkelly@tampabay.com. Follow @_NickKelly.

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