TAMPA, Fla. – The Montreal Canadiens used a big third period to keep their road trip going in the right direction.
Brendan Gallagher broke a tie with Montreal’s third goal of the third period, and the Eastern Conference-leading Canadiens rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night.
“That’s what good teams do,” Gallagher said. “You get behind, but you’re confident in yourself to come back in games. We get down by two and we feel like we have a chance to come back. But with that said, you have to do the right thing and play the same way every night.”
The Canadiens pulled within 3-2 on Brian Gionta’s power-play goal 3:49 into the third, and Alexei Emelin tied it at 7:33. Gallagher then put the puck past Cedrick Desjardins from in close to give Montreal a 4-3 lead with 7:57 to play.
Montreal also got a goal from Tomas Plekanec and two assists from Michael Ryder to win for the third time in a five-game trip that has one game remaining.
“They showed a lot of character by coming back, and ended up finding a way to win this hockey game,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said.
Steven Stamkos scored his 19th goal, and Martin St. Louis had two assists for the Lightning, who have lost seven of eight. Sami Salo and Ryan Malone had the other Tampa Bay goals.
“When you’re in these situations, things creep into your head when you’re not winning games, and you’re finding ways to lose,” Stamkos said after a players only postgame meeting. “It’s natural. You’ve got to find a way not to have that.
“A 3-1 lead at home going into the third, that should almost be automatic. Right now it’s clearly not.”
Stamkos put the Lightning ahead 1-0 when the centre beat Carey Price from the slot off a pass from St. Louis at 5:30 of the second. St. Louis has seven assists and nine points during a six-game point steak.
“Right now it gets our guys nervous whenever it gets close in these moments, and you have to get rid of that,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. “As you saw today again, they battled with a top team and were right there, but it’s that confidence that comes with results.”
After Plekanec scored 7:38 into the second, Salo gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 advantage just 37 seconds later. Malone made it 3-1 on a power-play redirection with 7:40 left in the second.
Desjardins, who made his third career start, won two games for the Lightning during the 2010-11 season, including a 4-1 victory over Montreal on Dec. 30, 2010.
Tampa Bay centre Vincent Lecavalier had no shots in just under 19 minutes of playing time, and hasn’t scored a goal in 10 games.
NOTES: Montreal LW Brandon Prust hit the boards hard in the third period and appeared to hurt his shoulder. … Desjardins, acquired from the Canadiens in a minor league trade on Feb. 14, was recalled from Syracuse of the AHL on Tuesday. … Montreal D Yannick Weber didn’t play because of a knee injury sustained Thursday during a 4-2 win at Carolina. … Tampa Bay G Mathieu Garon, out with a lower body injury, has resumed skating. … Canadiens D Greg Pateryn, recalled from Hamilton of the AHL on Thursday, made his NHL debut. … Montreal is 2-4 when trailing after the second period.