TAMPA — With the Lightning playing for the first time in five days — helped by the league's three-day holiday break — coach Jon Cooper figured if anyone would be rusty, it would be the goaltenders.
But both Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop and Montreal's Carey Price were stellar throughout Saturday's matchup.
"That goes to show how much I know," Cooper joked. "The goalies were on, and the skaters were off."
Price was better at the end, stopping all three shootout attempts as Montreal won 2-1 to snap Tampa Bay's five-game winning streak. Lars Eller beat Bishop on Montreal's first shootout attempt, and that was the difference in front of a mixed-fan crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"Maybe we thought it was going to be easy after winning all those games before the break, and we just didn't show up to play," Bishop said. "We can't do that in front of our fans. They deserve better."
Bishop showed up from the start, including stopping Tomas Plekanec on a partial breakaway midway through the first period. Bishop needed to be on task. Captain Marty St. Louis said the Lightning (23-11-4) chased the puck, which is why its first shot didn't come until about 11 minutes in. Plekanec scored 5:15 into the second to make it 1-0.
"Our timing was off. Our passes were off. Everything was off," Cooper said. "It was a good thing Bishop was on because that could have gotten ugly for us quickly."
But the Lightning got better. St. Louis tied it 6:28 later in the second, snapping a wrist shot from between the circles past Price's glove. St. Louis' 17th goal of the season extended his points streak to a season-high six games.
"I caught the pass, put it on my forehand and let it go," he said.
The Lightning, which outscored opponents 8-1 in the third during its winning streak, was again at its best in the final 20 minutes. It outshot Montreal 14-6 and created several scoring chances. But it couldn't crack Price (23 saves), who stifled Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Kucherov and Teddy Purcell in the shootout.
Eller's winner came on a backhand-to-forehand move. "I was right there with him. It just went right under my arm," Bishop said. "I was mad at myself."
The Lightning fell to 5-2 in shootouts. One win came at Montreal on Nov. 12.
"It could have gone either way," St. Louis said. "We just didn't get the extra point."
|Canadiens win shootout 1-0|
|Canadiens win shootout 1-0|
First Period—None. Penalties—Tampa Bay bench, served by Purcell (too many men), 3:55; Gudas, TB (tripping), 13:44; Diaz, Mon (cross-checking), 15:53.
Second Period—1, Montreal, Plekanec 13 (Gionta, Moen), 5:15. 2, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 17 (Johnson, Palat), 11:43. Penalties—Subban, Mon (hooking), 8:25; Cote, TB (interference), 17:34.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Pacioretty, Mon (holding), 6:00.
Shootout—Montreal 1 (Eller G, Desharnais NG), Tampa Bay 0 (Filppula NG, Kucherov NG, Purcell NG). Shots on Goal—Montreal 7-8-6-0—21. Tampa Bay 3-6-14-1—24. Power-play opportunities—Montreal 0 of 3; Tampa Bay 0 of 3. Goalies—Montreal, Price 18-11-2 (24 shots-23 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 20-5-3 (21-20). A—19,204 (19,204).