Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning defeats Montreal Canadiens 3-1

MONTREAL — One by one Saturday night, Antero Niittymaki's teammates came by to pay tribute.

The Lightning goaltender was splendid with 36 saves in Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, including 30 in the last two periods.

So, pats on the back were required as Niittymaki sat in the locker room.

"He played great," center Vinny Lecavalier said.

"Really solid," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He's seeing the puck, and he's square, and he's really giving us a chance to win."

The Lightning (6-4-3) got several high-level contributions.

Alex Tanguay, in his first game in Montreal since leaving to sign with Tampa Bay, had a goal and an assist, as did Ryan Malone.

Lecavalier had two assists, and rookie James Wright scored an enormous goal with 1:59 left in the second period to restore a two-goal lead defended until the end.

It was a satisfying finish to a 2-1-1 road trip that netted five of a possible eight points after starting so badly with a 6-2 loss in Philadelphia. And for whatever it is worth so early in the season, Tampa Bay, with 17 points, jumped to seventh in the East. The top eight make the playoffs.

"It is big," Lecavalier said. "You always want to try to stay above that line."

For that, they can thank Niittymaki, who entered 1-8-1 against Montreal but elevated his game in the second and third periods, when the Lightning was outshot 30-11, including 15-4 in the third.

That was after Tampa Bay had jumped to a 2-0 first-period lead on Malone's goal, his 10th, on the power play and Tanguay's third, his second in as many games.

Thereafter, the Canadiens and their fleet wings pushed the play. The Lightning, which ended up being outshot 37-21, had trouble countering and several times was pinned in the defensive zone. But Niittymaki, 2-0-2 in his past five games with a 1.48 goals-against average .956 save percentage, was solid.

"He's moving so well inside his crease, it makes it difficult for a guy to beat him," Tanguay said. "When you have a goalie who is hot like that, he's going to win you games."

"Actually, the first period I wasn't seeing the puck that well," Niittymaki said. "But you get a couple of saves and you feel a little better and you get on track."

A big one came 55 seconds into the second period when he went spread eagle to stop Mike Cammalleri at the right side of the net. A bigger one came with 8:49 left in the second when he stopped Brian Gionta's re-direct to preserve a 2-1 lead.

"We bent a little but didn't break," Malone said, "and Niitty was there for the big stops when he had to be."

Lightning 2 1 0 3
Canadiens 0 1 0 1
Lightning 2 1 0 3
Canadiens 0 1 0 1

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Malone 10 (St. Louis, Lecavalier), 10:09 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Tanguay 3 (Malone, Lecavalier), 19:13. PenaltiesSpacek, Mon (high-sticking), 9:30.

Second Period3, Montreal, Gionta 7 (Spacek, Gomez), 9:44 (pp). 4, Tampa Bay, Wright 2 (Tanguay, Halpern), 18:01. PenaltiesKonopka, TB (tripping), 8:59; Lecavalier, TB (roughing), 10:05; Mara, Mon (tripping), 10:05; Gorges, Mon (tripping), 11:22.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesMara, Mon (holding), 16:30. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 10-7-4—21. Montreal 7-15-15—37. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 3; Montreal 1 of 1. GoaliesTampa Bay, Niittymaki 4-1-2 (37 shots-36 saves). Montreal, Price 3-7-0 (21-18). A21,273 (21,273).

Lightning 3

Canadiens 1

Tampa Bay Lightning defeats Montreal Canadiens 3-1 11/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2009 11:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Can Bucs become Tampa Bay's favorite team again?


    Their playoff run came up a tiebreaker short.

    Bucs fullback, Mike Alstott talks to the crowd as he walked along Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa during the Buccaneer victory parade Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.Times Photo by: Fraser Hale
  2. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'


    There are certain things that make HBO's Hard Knocks must-see television.

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  3. Trevor Plouffe is DFA'd by Rays, Kittredge recalled for now


    INF Trevor Plouffe didn't do much with the opportunity the Rays gave him, and time ran out Tuesday when he was designated for assignment after the game.

    Plouffe hit just .178, with one homer and two RBIs, in 31 games for the Rays, his primary playing time from starting at first or third against lefties.

  4. Rays journal: Offense shows signs of waking up in win over Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The drought was so severe that it's still probably too soon to say the Rays are out of it, but scoring a half-dozen runs in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Blue Jays was another promising sign.

    Corey Dickerson high-fives Wilson Ramos after hitting a solo home run in the third inning, putting the Rays up 2-1.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    C Wilson Ramos, coming off right knee surgery, often takes it easy on the bases, though it's not always a good look. But he hustled when he needed to Tuesday and got the Rays a run by beating out a two-out infield single, finishing with three more hits.