The Tampa Bay Lightning couldn't translate another strong effort into a victory on Saturday night.
Steven Stamkos recorded a goal and two points, and Martin St. Louis added a pair of assists, but the Lightning fell to the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in front of a 13th consecutive sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay held a 3-1 lead going into the final frame, but proceeded to give up three consecutive goals to the Canadiens in the game's final 16 minutes to suffer a second straight loss in as many games.
"It's tough to take," Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. "If you're leading 3-1 and not playing very good, and in the third period you play the same, it goes a long way with the rest of the game."
Brendan Gallagher snapped a 3-3 tie at 12:03 of the third for what stood up as the game-winner, popping free a puck that appeared to have been wedged between Desjardins and the post.
Both Brian Gionta and Alexei Emelin scored prior to that to spark the late rallying effort, with the pair of scores coming in succession in a span of 3:44.
"Going into the third we talked about going in there and getting traffic to the net," Gallagher said. "We did a good job of making it tough on their goaltender. That's what good teams do."
Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens, which won consecutive games for the first time since they won five straight from February 12 to February 19.
Michael Ryder had two assists, and Carey Price turned back 20 of 23 shots against, including only two in the third period, as Montreal owned a 13-2 advantage in shots throughout the final 20 minutes.
"That's the mentality we have," Gallagher added. "Our group is confident and we feel like we can get down two and feel like we have a chance to come back."
Stamkos opened the scoring in the second period with his league-leading 19th of the season at 5:30 after he took a beautiful pass from St. Louis and zipped a shot past Price for a 1-0 lead.
Plekanec tied it at 7:38 when he took a nice feed from Andrei Markov and fired one home from the slot that beat Desjardins, pulling Montreal even at 1-1.
Salo then put the Bolts back in front with his second goal of the season to make it 2-1, capping a sequence that saw the teams exchange a goal each in a span of just 37 seconds.
"I felt at that point we were playing solid hockey," Boucher added.
Tampa Bay padded its lead to 3-1 at 12:20 while on the power play, as a shot from the point deflected off both Stamkos and Malone before finding the back of the net through Price.
But coming out of the intermission, Montreal's comeback attempt started when Gionta trimmed the Lightning lead to 3-2 early in the third, poking free a loose puck in the crease following a lengthy scrum in front of the net.
"I thought I had the puck," Desjardins said. "But I guess the official had to see it to not blow the whistle."
Emelin was credited with Montreal's third goal of the game at 7:33 of the final period that tied things up at 3-3 when the puck somehow found its way through Bolts forward Alex Killorn and in.
That's how it stayed until Gallagher's game winner, which preceded an attempt by the Lightning for the equalizer with Desjardins to the bench in favor of the extra attacker.
"We're not hungry to win and we're scared to lose right now and it shows," Stamkos said. "In the first 10 minutes, instead of keeping the pressure on them we are dumping the pucks into nobody. They get the momentum, come breaking out of their zone, they score, and it's a different game."
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