BOLTS DROP GAME AGAINST HABS
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning hosted the Montreal Canadiens for the first time this season, but dropped a tough loss at the St. Pete Times Forum. Alexei Kovalev scored the game-winning goal and added one assist to lead the Canadiens to a 5-2 victory.
Vaclav Prospal and Jan Hlavac scored for Tampa Bay and Nick Tarnasky added a pair of assists to get the Lightning on the board in the contest.
Early in the first period Montreal captain Saku Koivu tested goaltender Johan Holmqvist after splitting the Tampa Bay defense in the slot. When Koivu’s shot went off Holmqvist’s left pad Guillaume Latendresse looked for the rebound at the side of the net, but was held off by the Lightning netminder.
Within minutes the Canadiens put the first of two first-period goals on the board. Converting a long outlet pass by Mike Komisarek, Maxim Lapierre skated down the right wing before firing a wrist shot past Holmqvist. The goal was Lapierre’s first of the season.
Less than three minutes later Latendresse connected for his 10th goal of the season. After his spin-around back-hand attempt banged off the left post Koivu collected his own rebound to put a shot on goal. Holmqvist made the initial save, but Latendresse popped the second rebound into the left side of the net.
Montreal built their lead to three goals when Kovalev notched his 16th goal of the season. Scoring 10 seconds into the second period, Kovalev flicked a shot from the left faceoff circle that deflected between Holmqvist’s pads and into the net.
With Karri Ramo replacing Holmqvist between the pipes, the Tampa Bay goalie was immediately tested on a shorthanded breakaway by Christopher Higgins. Ramo got his glove on a shot by Higgins after he skated down the right side before the Canadiens winger missed the net on a wraparound attempt off the rebound.
Kovalev later skated in hard and made a spin move in front of the net, but Ramo covered the shot for the save.
Despite the saves, Andrei Markov connected less than one minute into the third to put Montreal ahead by four. Firing a one-time slapshot from the blueline, Markov put the puck to the right of Ramo for his 10th goal of the season. Andrei Kostitsyn later redirected a shot off a rebound from a Tomas Plekanec shot to close out the scoring for the Canadiens.
Scoring his 16th goal of the season, Prospal snapped goaltender Cristobal Huet’s shutout bid at 6:15 of the third period.
When a shot from the left point by Doug Janik deflected down at the net Huet made a right pad save. Prospal picked up the rebound and banged the puck past Huet for the score.
|Lightning head coach John Tortorella, center, and forwards Brad Richards (19) and Martin St. Louis (26) look on late in the Lightning's 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Hlavac later added his fifth goal of the season with 15.1 seconds remaining into the game. Tarnasky carried the puck through the slot before taking a shot in front of the net. Although Huet made a pad save on the shot, Hlavac jumped on the rebound to tap in the goal.
Tampa Bay out-shot Montreal 30-29 in the contest. Holmqvist and Ramo split time in the net for the Lightning, stopping a combined 24 shots.
Brad Richards led all skaters with six shots on goal in the contest. Last season Richards led the Lightning with five points (two goals, three assists) through four games against Montreal.
The Lightning held the Canadiens scoreless through four power play opportunities. Through the previous five games Tampa Bay has held their opponents scoreless with the man advantage, killing off 15 power plays during that stretch.
Tampa Bay continues their two-game home stand on Saturday, December 29 (1:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) when they host the Philadelphia Flyers. The game marks the second and final meeting between the teams at the St. Pete Times Forum this season.
|Three star selections