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Canadiens, Price right ship

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens went down to the wire to finally pull out of the skid they've been on since clinching a playoff spot.

Brian Gionta scored his second goal of the game with 46.4 seconds left and Montreal ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Gionta, who gave Montreal a 2-0 lead in the second period, scored on a power play after Tampa Bay's Benoit Pouliot received a late holding penalty.

Alex Galchenyuk also scored for Montreal and Price made 32 saves.

"Carey kept us in that game," Gionta said. "You look at some of the saves he made, he gave us a chance to win that game. If it wasn't for him, it wouldn't have been close down at the end."

Price had dropped three straight after relieving Peter Budaj in Wednesday night's 6-4 loss in Pittsburgh. He was pulled in his two previous starts, a 7-3 loss to Philadelphia on Monday and a 5-1 loss in Toronto on Saturday.

"Obviously, things haven't been going our way the last week and it was definitely nice to get that one out of the way," said Price, who stopped Steven Stamkos on a breakaway early in the third.

The Canadiens (27-12-5), who clinched a playoff spot last Thursday, moved two points ahead of the Boston Bruins for the Northeast Division lead.

Vincent Lecavalier drew Tampa Bay even at 2 with his 10th goal of the season 5:07 into the third. Richard Panik also scored for the Lightning, who have lost five straight (0-3-2).

Ben Bishop stopped 32 shots for Tampa Bay (17-23-4).

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it was the best game he had seen his team play since he took over behind the bench on March 26, one game after Guy Boucher was fired.

"I thought for a lot of the play we controlled it," Cooper said. "I don't know what the scoring chances ended up, but I'd have to say that we were on the positive end of that. But unfortunately we were on the negative end of the score."

The Lightning hit the post or the crossbar three times in the first, and Teddy Purcell put a shot off the post in the second after Galchenyuk's goal.

The Montreal rookie scored for a third game in a row, putting Montreal up 1-0 4:04 into the second.

Gionta made it 2-0 with his second goal in as many nights at 15:05 of the second period.

Panik drew Tampa Bay within 2-1 at 17:36 of the second with a power-play goal. He flipped a puck in the goal mouth over Price's outstretched right pad for his fifth goal of the season and his third in four games.

Price had little chance on the tying goal by Lecavalier, who was left alone at the side of the net.

Pouliot was called for holding P.K. Subban with 2:21 left in the third as the two teams combined for four power-play opportunities in the final 9:32, including three man-advantages for Montreal.

NOTES: Tampa Bay had allowed 28 goals in its previous seven games. ... The Lightning's Tom Pyatt did not play. The former Montreal center is day to day with an upper-body injury. ... Canadiens left winger Brandon Prust was out of the lineup for the second time in three games. He played Wednesday in Pittsburgh after sitting out Monday night's 7-3 loss to Philadelphia. Prust banged up his shoulder in Saturday's 5-1 loss in Toronto. He missed eight games from March 10 through March 27 with a left-shoulder injury. ... Montreal right winger Ryan White sat out the second game of his five-game suspension for his hit to the head of the Flyers' Kent Huskins on Monday.
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