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Canadiens win in shootout after Lightning rally

The SportsXchange

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay took forever to start, but Montreal never could seem to finish.

The Lightning's current funk proved to be harder to fix than Canadiens', but each struggling team found something to soothe its woes in a 4-3 shootout win by Montreal at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday.

Montreal (7-4-1, 15 points) ended a three-game losing streak, while the Lightning (6-5-1, 13) recouped a point with a late frenzy after it appeared set to lose its fifth straight in regulation.

"We couldn't let that one slip," said David Desharnais, who scored the only goal of the shootout. "We were winning 3-0. It would have been a disaster to us (to lose). The last three games for us, we lost and we needed that win. That 3-0 lead, we needed to win that game."

The Lightning didn't resist much until the final six minutes of regulation. Then a Sami Salo power-play goal that bounced off a defenseman trickled in to tie the game 3-3 with 43 seconds left in regulation and Tampa Bay had scored three times in six minutes after being thoroughly smothered earlier. Tampa Bay had failed on 15 consecutive man-advantages over parts of four games before Salo's goal.

Victor Hedman's third and fourth goals of the season, with 5:56 and 1:43 to go, respectively, gave Tampa Bay a chance.

"You got to earn every night, we got to earn every period, and we didn't start earning it until the third and obviously we were able to grind a point out of it so that's a positive," said the Lightning's Martin St. Louis.

For Montreal coach Michel Therrien, there was too much positive to gripe about the late struggle.

"We came to win this hockey game and that is what we did. We were almost perfect for 54 minutes," he said. "We opened them the door. We've got to learn from it. The positive thing is it was an important game and guys bounced back from our last game (a 6-0 loss to Toronto) and we were almost perfect for 54 minutes."

Carey Price made 21 saves for Montreal and stopped Hedman, Martin St. Louis and two-time scoring champion Steven Stamkos in the shootout.

Montreal had dominated the overtime and was denied a winner when Anders Lindback made a toe save of a close chance from Desharnais.

P.K. Subban had a goal and an assist, and Lars Eller had two assists for Montreal when it was apparently putting away the Lightning, who have cooled after winning five of their first six but remain second in the Southeast Division. The Canadiens controlled play in the first period as Tampa Bay was whistled for five penalties. The costliest penalty came in the final two minutes when Hedman was called for roughing after losing his stick on defense, giving the Canadiens a 5-on-3 opportunity that finally led to the first goal.

Brian Gionta gave Montreal a 1-0 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the period when he tapped in a brisk cross-crease pass from Tomas Plekanec past a defenseless Lindback. The goal was Gionta's third of the season.

The Canadiens had just one first-period penalty kill for 43 seconds.

Montreal continued to control the sluggish Lightning in the second period, shutting off passing lanes that Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and St. Louis had exploited earlier this season. Four Montreal penalties failed to spur Tampa Bay.

Montreal took a 2-0 lead with 11:39 left in the middle period as Subban ripped his third goal of the season from the blue line through a screen.

"In the second period when they scored that second goal, it just became real heavy on the bench and there's no positive stuff that we can draw from and so the second period we just kept sinking lower and lower and lower mentally and emotionally," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.

The Canadiens' grinders improved the margin to 3-0 against a line including St. Louis, Stamkos and Hedman with 1:06 left in the period when Moen was credited with his first goal of the season by poking the puck while tussling for position in the crease with defenseman Eric Brewer.

NOTES: The Lightning's game in Boston that was postponed last week because of a winter storm was rescheduled for April 25. ... Montreal won for the first time in four games (including a shootout loss). St. Louis added to his league-leading assist total (14). ... Tampa Bay scored 37 goals in its first seven games but just nine in its last five. ... St. Louis has not scored a goal in his last 10 games, Stamkos in four straight. ... Right wing Richard Panik, a second-round pick in the 2009 draft who had 21 goals in 43 games for Syracuse, made his Lightning debut. He was recalled on Monday after Ryan Malone was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury that may cost him 3-4 weeks. ... Therrien altered his top line of Max Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole. Pacioretty was paired with rookies Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. Cole and Desharnais were linked with Brandon Prust. ... Gionta's goal was his first in nine games. ... Subban has at least a point in five of six games played this season. ... Tampa Bay had snuffed all three 5-on-3 penalty kills it faced this season before Tuesday. ... Tampa Bay has been outscored 17-11 in the second period this season.
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