Canadiens romp over lazy Lightning
The Montreal Canadiens outworked Tampa Bay all night on Thursday, winning the game easily with more than a little help from Lightning defenceman Filip Kuba.
The Canadiens dropped Tampa Bay 5-2 for their 12th road win of the season. Apair of Montreal shots went offKuba and into the Lightning net and he was in the penalty box for a third goal.
Maxim Lapierre, with hisfirst of the season, Guillaume Latendresse, Alexei Kovalev,Andrei Markov, and Andrei Kostitsyn scored for Montreal (18-13-6).
Mike Komisarek and Tomas Plekanec each had two assists for the Canadiens.
While Kuba and starting goaltender Johan Holmqvist were easy scapegoats, the entire Lightning team played an uninspired game, threatening Montreal netminder Cristobal Huet withgood scoringchances very few times.
Vinny Prospal broke Huet's shutout bid in the third by converting a rebound from a point shot by Doug Janik. Jan Hlavac added a goal in the game's final seconds when Huet couldn't find the puck afterTampa Bay's first shot.
Nick Tarnasky assisted on both goals for Tampa Bay, which has now dropped six of its last seven games.
"It is one of the worst stretches that I can remember since I've been here," Lightning coach John Tortorella said.
Holmqvist is without a win in his last six appearances, dating back to Dec. 6.
Vincent Lecavalier, who leads the NHL with 55 points and scoredtwice Wednesday against Washington, was held without a point.
Lapierre opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first after being sprung on a pass from Montreal defenceman Mike Komisarek. Lapierre drove down the right wing and took a shot that deflected off Kuba's stick and past Holmqvist.
The Canadiens swarmed the Tampa Bay zone not long after for the second goal. Captain Saku Koivu spun around and backhanded a shot on net, with Latendresse eventually potting a rebound at 12:48.
"Saku is such a good playmaker and is a good hardworking guy, so for me it's easier to play with him," Latendresse told CBC Sports. "I just have to go to the net."
Kuba was a culprit again for the Lightning, with Kovalev's shot going off his skate past Holmqvist just 10 seconds into the second period. The goal, scored with the teams playing 4-on-4, was Kovalev's 16th and signalled the arrival of TampaBay backup Karri Ramo.
Ramo proved his mettle early, stopping Chris Higgins on a breakaway.
Kuba took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking late in the second and just 44 seconds into the third, Markov blasted a slapshot from the point past Ramo.
The Habs scored again 24 seconds later whenKovalev outmuscled a Lightning player in the neutral zone, starting a play that culminated with Tomas Plekanec setting up Kostitysn near the crease for the team's fifth goal.
Huet ended the night with 28 saves, with Tampa's goaltenders stopping 25 shots.
The Canadiens have won seven of the last nine against the Lightning but lost the only previous meeting this season, 3-2 in a shootout in Montreal on Dec. 11.
Brad Richards scored the shootout winner in that game but has now gone six without a goal.
Montreal rookie Kyle Chipchura was again a healthy scratch.
The Canadiens will play in Florida on Friday and at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Sunday to finish their road trip.