TAMPA, Fla. – Steven Stamkos got fancy and the result was a spectacular goal.
Stamkos had two goals and two assists, goalie Cedrick Desjardins won in his NHL debut and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Thursday night.
Stamkos made it 3-1 at 1:46 of the third when he beat Carey Price with a backhander after a spin move in the slot during a penalty shot. The centre opted for the new move due to his lacklustre career shootout record of four goals in 17 tries, including three failed attempts this season.
“I’ve done that probably 10 times in practice and it’s worked every time,” Stamkos said. “I said ‘What the heck, I’ll give it a try.’ I probably surprised Price. I’ve never done that before. I’m just happy it went in.”
Montreal coach Jacques Martin said the goal “broke our back early in the third.”
“He’s a great player,” Martin added. “Great determination.”
Stamkos extended Tampa Bay’s advantage to 4-1 on a wraparound goal, his 31st of the season, with 15:20 left.
Desjardins, a former Montreal minor leaguer obtained by the Lightning in an off-season trade, made 27 saves. The 25-year old played for Lightning coach Guy Boucher last season with Hamilton of the AHL.
“It’s kind of Hollywood to play them my first game,” Desjardins said. “They gave me my chance at 20 years old and I’ll always be respectful for that. It’s a day I won’t forget.”
Martin St. Louis and Pavel Kubina also scored for Tampa Bay. The Lightning are 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
Max Pacioretty scored for the Canadiens, who have lost eight of 10. Price was pulled with 7:50 to go in the third and was replaced by Alex Auld.
“Right now, the way things are going, obviously we’re a fragile team,” Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. “We’ve got to figure out how to stop it.”
Montreal will play Friday at Florida, which will complete a stretch of three road games in four days.
“Things just fell apart, but we’ll come out of this,” Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban said.
St. Louis tied it at 1 from just below the right circle during a 5-on-3 power play at 2:48 of the second. The goal came after Montreal had consecutive too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties, coming 45 seconds apart.
“We got the lead early and then the lack of focus and lack of concentration cost us some penalties,” Martin said.
St. Louis has two goals among his 22 power-play points this season.
Kubina stopped a personal 34-game goal drought and gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 6:29 left in the second.
Pacioretty scored on the game’s first shot 58 seconds into the first. His shot from near the low left circle went into the net off the skate of Tampa Bay defenceman Brett Clark.
Montreal’s James Wisniewski hit the post during a power play later in the first.
NOTES: Canadiens D Josh Gorges missed his second straight game due to a knee injury. … Wisniewski, obtained Tuesday in a trade with the New York Islanders, made his Canadiens debut. … Kubina set a Lightning career record for a defenceman with his 67th goal. He had shared the record with Dan Boyle. … Lightning D Randy Jones (upper-body injury) returned after missing one game. … Montreal is 0-15-0 this season when training after two periods. … Lightning D Matt Smaby played just eight shifts, but wound up a plus-2.