Montreal Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon falls after being checked by the Lightning's Vaclav Prospal during the first period on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)
MONTREAL – Playing their second game of a three-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Montreal Canadiens for the third of four meetings this season. Despite coming back to tie the game at three late in the second peroid, the Lightning fell to the Canadiens, 6-3.
Vaclav Prospal posted one goal and two assists, but a three-point (two goals, one assist) night by Michael Ryder lifted Montreal to the victory. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis also recorded multi-point nights for the Lightning, notching one goal and one assist each.
Less than one minute into the game Tampa Bay began to pressure Montreal when Prospal rang a shot off the right post. After St. Louis carried the puck across the blue line and dropped a pass back to Lecavalier up the right side, the Lightning center forwarded the puck to Prospal. Firing a shot from the right faceoff circle, Prospal collected his own rebound but the attempt was stopped by the post.
Lightning netminder Karri Ramo responded at the opposite end of the ice when Alexei Kovalev skated into the Canadiens zone on a breakaway. Skating down the left wing off a go-ahead pass by Roman Hamrlik, Kovalev cut to the front of the net but Ramo broke up the shot opportunity.
With Saku Koivu in the box for holding, Tampa Bay put a pair of strong chances on Montreal goalie Cristobel Huet. After making a glove save on a Filip Kuba slap shot from the point, Huet held off a late power play scramble in the goal mouth. Following a Brad Richards shot from the point, Prospal and Kuba tried to bang the puck into the net as Huet was down in his crease but they were unable to get the shot on goal.
Minutes later the Lightning found themselves killing off a 5-on-3 man-advantage opportunity for the Canadiens, but Kovalev converted the second power play to give Montreal the lead.
After blocking a right-point shot by Mark Streit, Ramo held off a point blank one-timer shot by Koivu from the middle of the slot. Although Koivu went on to ring a shot off the post with a second remaining in the 5-on-3, Ryder held on to the rebound at the right of Ramo.
Passing the puck through the crease on the play, Ryder opened up Kovalev to bang the shot into the open side of the net. The goal was Kovalev’s team-leading 17th of the season.
Minutes later the Canadiens capitalized on a second power play when Andrei Markov dumped the puck behind the net. Koivu made a pass out front as Christopher Higgins skated to the right hash marks. Higgins fired a wrist shot to past Ramo’s right leg for his 15th goal of the season.
Despite the goal, Lecavalier opened the second period by cutting the lead in half with his team-leading 27th goal of the season. Less than one minute into the frame Lecavalier slipped and outlet pass by Prospal through his legs to catch a breakaway. Putting a wrist shot on net from the bottom of the slot, Lecavalier beat Huet to the five hole for the score.
Montreal responded with a pair of shots by Koivu. After being denied by a pad save on a shot from the right hash marks, Koivu was held off on his own rebound attempt. Moments later Lecavalier skated in for another breakaway, but Huet kicked out his right leg to blank the back-handed shot in front of the net.
Although Ryder scored his first goal of the night to regain Montreal’s two-goal edge, the Lightning scored twice within the following five minutes to tie the game at three.
Cutting across the blueline on a two-on-two rush, Ryder snapped a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle to beat Ramo high to the left glove side. Less than three minutes later, St. Louis scored to bring the Lightning within one, 3-2.
As Tampa Bay skated with the power play St. Louis fired off a pair of shots before finding the back of the net. After slapping a hard-angled shot from the goal line, St. Louis was held off by Huet on a shot from the right faceoff circle.
With the power play winding down, Prospal backhanded a pass through the crease to St. Louis. Positioned to the left of Huet, St. Louis slammed a shot high into the open side of the net for his 15th goal of the season.
Only 2:02 later, Prospal connected for his 18th of the year to tie the game. Sending the puck off the back boards, Lecavalier slapped a one-timed shot from the top of the slot sailed that sailed wide of the net. The rebound bounced out to Prospal at the bottom of the right faceoff circle where the Lightning winger redirected a shot behind Huet.
Despite tying the game as the teams skated into the final period, Montreal scored three unanswered goals to close out the scoring.
Ramo opened the period with a shoulder save on a Hamrlik snap shot through traffic, but Andrei Kastsitsyn scored at 7:54 to give the Canadiens a 4-3 lead. After Kastsitsyn’s shot from the left side boards found its way to the net, Kyle Chipchura banged in a rebound at the front of the net for a two-goal lead.
Higgins later fed Ryder with a pass through the goalmouth with less than three minutes remaining in the game, setting up the final goal of the night.
Prospal looked to cut down the Montreal lead late in the game, skating out from behind the net for a wrist shot from a few feet out of the crease. Huet grabbed the puck with less than a minute remaining to hold Tampa Bay off the board.
Prospal finished the contest with three points for his 11th multi-point game of the season. The Lightning winger has recorded three goals and nine points through a five-game scoring streak. Prospal’s longest streak of the season reached six games between November 3-14, a span in which he recorded 10 points (three goals, seven assists).
With a pair of points in the contest, Lecavalier and St. Louis both extended their points streaks to three games. Both players have recorded two goals and three assists in the stretch.
Tampa Bay converted one power play opportunity and out-shot Montreal 33-30 in the contest. St. Louis led all skaters with seven shots on goal.
The Lightning continue their season-high four-game road trip on Saturday, January 5 (7:00p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) in Canada’s capital. Facing off against the Ottawa Senators, the clubs will meet for the third time this season.
1 - 0 MTL
2 - 0 MTL
2 - 1 MTL
3 - 1 MTL
Martin St. Louis
3 - 2 MTL
Martin St. Louis
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 MTL
5 - 3 MTL
6 - 3 MTL