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Lecavalier, Lightning top Canadiens for third straight win

TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Unfortunately for the Montreal

Canadiens, Vincent Lecavalier still is a member of the Tampa Bay

Lightning.

Lecavalier and fellow All-Star Martin St. Louis each recorded a

goal and an assist as the Lightning scored three times in the

second period Tuesday en route to a 5-3 victory over the

Canadiens.

Ryan Malone, Vaclav Prospal and Steve Downie also tallied for

Tampa Bay, which has won three straight games and slowly is

climbing the Eastern Conference standings.

Mike Smith made 31 saves for the Lightning, who went 4-1-0 over

their five-game homestand.

"When those guys (Lecavalier and St. Louis) score, we're going

to be in a lot of games," Smith said. "Those were big goals

from both of them tonight."

Maxim Lapierre scored twice and All-Star Game MVP Alexei Kovalev

also tallied for the Canadiens, who have been rumored to be

interested in acquiring Lecavalier for months.

"To end up scoring five goals against a pretty good team makes

it a lot more special," Prospal said. "There were a lot of

games at the beginning of the season where we had chances and

couldn't score, and right now, we seem to capitalize on the

chances, and that makes a difference on whether you win or

lose."

The Lightning have insisted they will not trade their captain,

and Lecavalier continues to say he is happy in Tampa Bay. The

28-year-old, whose 11-year, $85-million contract extension goes

into effect next season, proved his worth in this one.

A native of Ile Bizard, Quebec, Lecavalier tied the contest at

2-2 at 2:49 of the middle session. After taking a pass from St.

Louis, Lecavalier appeared to be heading behind the net but

instead unleashed a quick wrist shot over All-Star goaltender

Carey Price for a power-play goal.

The Lightning took the lead on Prospal's 12th of the season with

5:03 left in the second, and Downie banked in a shot off

Canadiens defenseman Roman Hamrlik's skate from behind the net

to make it 4-2.

"We didn't have a good first period, but the good thing about it

is, they responded in the second period," Tampa Bay interim

coach Rick Tocchet said. "To me, that's a sign of a team that's

coming together, and I'm proud of the guys.

"We can't afford any more losses. We're a long way away from

where we want to be, but there's some light at the end of the

tunnel."

St. Louis converted a give-and-go with Lecavalier midway through

the third period, firing a wrist shot past Price with 8:56 to go

to extend Tampa Bay's advantage.

Lapierre netted his second goal of the night just 22 seconds

later, but Montreal did not mount a serious scoring threat for

the rest of the contest.

"We haven't played well," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.

"We started the game on a right note. We had really good

chances to bury them early, but we let them come back.

"Our goalies are going to have to be stronger. We can't win

games giving up four or five goals every game, and that's the

way it's been over the last two or three weeks."

Price stopped 19 shots for the Canadiens, who outshot the

Lightning by a 20-7 margin in the first period.

"We couldn't get a bounce," Price said. "They brought it. They

played a pretty solid game. They played physical and got a few

bounces."

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