MONTREAL — Ryan Malone wasn't the most popular person around the Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
That he scored the winning goal with 51 seconds left in overtime in the Lightning's improbable 4-3 victory over the Canadiens in their home opener was one thing.
That perhaps he tripped Montreal's Dustin Boyd in front of the Canadiens' net right before Steven Stamkos tied the score at 3 with a power-play goal with 1:19 left in regulation was another.
And when Malone, with three points and six hits, was named the game's No. 1 star, the boos began again.
"Someone tried to reach for the puck, and I just ended up putting my stick on (Boyd's) stick, and it ended up looking like a trip," Malone said. "It's just a puck battle. That's all it was."
Whatever it was, the Lightning (2-0-0) will take it, especially given the way it came back from a 2-0 first-period deficit and absorbed the body blow of falling behind 3-2 in the third 31 seconds after Marty St. Louis tied the score with his first goal of the season.
Tampa Bay also overcame a good goalie in Carey Prince, who made 43 saves as the Lightning outshot Montreal 47-27, including 29-14 after the first period.
"We don't quit," Stamkos said. "For guys who have been here the last couple of years, that's exactly what we've been missing, that killer instinct, that drive, that quiet confidence that you have, the work ethic and talent to come back."
Tampa Bay began the third period trailing just 2-1 thanks to Brett Clark's second-period power-play goal.
St. Louis scored with 9:06 left on a rebound of a Stamkos shot from near the blue line. Montreal answered with 8:35 left on Andrei Kostitsyn's goal at the end of a two-on-one in which Tomas Plekanec turned around Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin at the blue line.
"I told the guys now I can sleep tonight," Lundin said after Stamkos and Malone changed the outcome.
Lundin wasn't the only blue-liner to blunder. Mike Vernace's horrible pass in the defensive zone went right to Maxim Lapierre, who fired a shot on which goalie Mike Smith had no chance for a 1-0 lead.
"We haven't played the right hockey we've been practicing," Malone said. "We're sometimes standing still, I guess. We have it in spurts, and that's the biggest thing you see."
The biggest thing was Malone around the net from where he got the winning goal.
"I love the guy. He's outstanding," coach Guy Boucher said. "He's smart. He's reliable and pays the price."
Montreal's fans wouldn't be so kind.
First Period—1, Montreal, Lapierre 1, 5:22. 2, Montreal, Plekanec 1 (Cammalleri, Spacek), 18:07. Penalties—O'Byrne, Mon (delay of game), 8:19; St. Louis, TB (hooking), 9:28; Cammalleri, Mon (roughing), 10:44; Moore, TB (cross-checking), 16:18; Subban, Mon (tripping), 16:48.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Clark 1 (Purcell, Malone), 1:44 (pp). Penalties—Cammalleri, Mon (interference), 1:22; Tyrell, TB (interference), 3:19; Downie, TB (roughing), 13:00; Lapierre, Mon (roughing), 13:00; Thompson, TB (roughing), 15:58; Lapierre, Mon, major (boarding), 15:58.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 1 (Stamkos), 10:54. 5, Montreal, Kostitsyn 1 (Plekanec, Gorges), 11:25. 6, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 3 (Lecavalier), 18:41 (pp). Penalties—Subban, Mon (slashing), 17:48.
Overtime—7, Tampa Bay, Malone 1 (Moore), 4:09. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 18-12-14-3—47. Montreal 13-6-7-1—27. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 2 of 6; Montreal 0 of 3. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 2-0-0 (27 shots-24 saves). Montreal, Price 1-1-1 (47-43). A—21,273 (21,273).