TAMPA, Fla. – Tampa Bay played like the all-star break was still going on during the first period. Things changed in the second.
Vincent Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal and Steve Downie scored second-period goals to lead the Lightning past the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 on Tuesday night.
“We were a little sleepy. The first period was not a good period for us,” Tampa Bay interim coach Rick Tocchet said. “The good thing about it, we responded. To me, that’s a sign of a team that’s coming together.”
Ryan Malone and Martin St. Louis also scored for the Lightning, who have won six of eight.
Montreal got goals from Maxim Lapierre, Alex Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse. Andrei Markov had an assist to extend his point streak to nine games (nine assists, two goals).
Lecavalier, off a pass from St. Louis, tied it 2-2 during a power play at 2:49 of the second period. The all-star forwards from Quebec have combined for 16 goals and 24 assists over the past 14 games.
“I think our big-time players, they came big at key times,” St. Louis said. “We’re becoming a tougher team to play against.”
The Lightning went up 3-2 on Prospal’s rebound goal with 5:03 remaining in the second. Downie made it a two-goal game at 17:08 when his pass was redirected into the net by Montreal defenceman Roman Hamrlik.
“You need your offensive guys to score goals, and you need your third and fourth lines to chip in goals like they have been the last few games,” Prospal said.
Lecavalier assisted on St. Louis’ power-play goal at 11:04 of the third. Latendresse scored 22 seconds later.
Lapierre and Kovalev scored 51 seconds apart to put Montreal up 2-1 midway through the first.
Lightning goalie Mike Smith stopped 18 of 20 shots during the first. Tampa Bay had seven shots over the stretch. Smith finished with 31 saves.
“I think we could have had a couple more goals in the first, but that’s the only period we played pretty much,” Montreal left wing Christopher Higgins said. “I think we got outworked in the second half of that game. I don’t know what guys expected, if they thought they were going to quit or anything. They were only down one goal after the first and that’s a team trying to make it into the playoffs. They’re not going to roll over.”
Montreal’s Carey Price stopped 19 shots.
“You can’t blame him for everything,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. “But on the other side, our goalies are going to have to be stronger. We can’t win games giving up four of five goals every game, and the last two or three weeks it’s been kind of that way.”
Malone opened the scoring at 3:08 of the first.
Lightning right-wing Mark Recchi, who needs one goal to tie former Canadiens’ star Frank Mahovlich (533) for 29th on the NHL career list, failed to score on a penalty shot late in the first.
Notes: Recchi played in his 1,458th game, moving past Glen Wesley into 16th place on the NHL career list. … Higgins returned after missing 19 games with a shoulder injury. … Karri Ramo was the Lightning backup goalie. He replaced Olaf Kolzig, who has a left arm injury. … Montreal D Patrice Brisebois didn’t play.