The Tampa Bay Lightning might not have been pleased with the result of Saturday night’s game, but they can hardly be unhappy about returning home following another discouraging road loss.
Vincent Lecavalier scored the lone goal for the Lightning, but in the team’s third consecutive loss, this time at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 3-1 at the Bell Centre.
Tampa Bay’s current skid follows a three-game sweep of a home stand that capped a run of five wins in seven games.
The loss also dropped the Bolts to 6-15-3 on the road this season. The team now returns home to play a two-game set that begins Tuesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where it is 11-5-0 on the year.
Mike Blunden, Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole each had goals for the Canadiens, which won for the third time in their last five tries. Carey Price stopped 23 of 24 shots.
Blunden scored his first NHL goal in 21 months to tie the score 5:44 into the second, erasing a one-goal deficit by beating Mathieu Garon with a backhand from in close.
Garon, who had the night off Thursday against the Senators, made 25 saves in his first action since Tuesday’s 7-3 loss at Toronto.Lightning forward Steven Stamkos ended a five-game goal-scoring streak after being held off the score sheet in the game. He had eight goals during that stretch to take over the league lead with 28.
Lecavalier opened the scoring at 3:24 after taking a Dominic Moore pass at the side of the net and redirecting it through the five hole of Price from in close for a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
“I thought we played a really good first period,” Lightning assistant coach Dan Lacroix said. “This is a tough building, so we wanted to come in, get a few pucks on net and get a goal early.”
It did, but Montreal countered early on in the second.
A pair of goals just 1:33 apart gave the Canadiens their first lead of the game going into the final period and shifted the momentum in Montreal’s favor.
First, Blunden drew the Habs even at one at 5:44 before Pacioretty put Montreal up 2-1 after beating Garon on a breakaway at 7:17. Just moments after Price stuck out his pad to deny Martin St. Louis, Pacioretty took a long lead pass from PK Subban and settled down a bouncing puck before snapping a low shot past the Lightning goaltender inside the right post.
“We had a lot of turnovers in that period,” Lecavalier said. “It changed the tempo of the game and it went on their side.”
The deficit could have been worse for the Lightning, had Lars Eller not hit a post in the first period or have an additional would-be goal waived off after it was determined the puck was kicked into the goal with the skate. The officials also denied Montreal a third scoring chance after blowing the whistle to indicate a high-stick penalty, blowing the play dead before the puck found its way to the net.
Heavy pressure down at the other end gave Tampa Bay numerous scoring chances in the third with an opportunity to tie, but several attempts by Tom Pyatt were denied by Price, who also turned back an attempt at the top of the crease by Ryan Malone with approximately seven minutes to go. Cole’s goal while on the power play with 17 seconds remaining sealed the win.
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