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Lightning could eliminate Habs; Montreal police stepping up patrol ahead of Game 4

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MONTREAL -

Montreal police (SPVM) says it is stepping up patrol ahead of the crucial game between the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre Monday night.

The American team is on the cusp of sweeping the Habs, with a 3-0 series lead in the first-to-four Stanley Cup final.

"We're previewing that there will be a large number of gatherings," said Véronique Comtois, a spokesperson with Montreal police. "We'll be there to assure the safety of everyone, as well as of the premises."

Though Comtois refused to specify details, she confirmed the force will have a greater number of officers on the ground Monday night, including at the Quartier des spectacles and the Olympic Park, where the game will be televised for thousands unable to get a foot in the Bell Centre.

This decision comes after intense celebrations when the Habs eliminated the Las Vegas Golden Knights in overtime on la Fête nationale to advance to the final.

"We want to let people do their thing without risking their safety, including abiding by health measures," Comtois said. "We're talking about a decisive game, so we'll be on the ground."

During the party, in the streets of downtown Montreal, 15 people were arrested and officers gave out 60 tickets for charges including assault, obstruction against police work and fireworks-related offences.

Authorities say a cruiser was also flipped onto its side as officers sprayed tear gas to disperse rowdy crowds who were throwing objects.

The force has also enlisted the help of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), who will provide officers to help control any potential mayhem.

Game 4 of the NHL final starts at 8 p.m.

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