TAMPA — A point's a point, but the Lightning needs them in pairs these days.
It settled for one Tuesday night, and a reminder that there is much left to do in reclaiming its season.
The Montreal Canadiens erased a one-goal deficit early in the third period and scored twice in a shootout to beat the Lightning 2-1 at the St. Pete Times Forum, snapping Tampa Bay's season-best three-game winning streak.
The Lightning again played with the energy that has underscored its recent slog from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and Southeast Division, but its recent power-play malaise continued and 22 shots were not nearly enough against goaltender Carey Price. But against a team that improved to 21-9-6 in winning the fifth in its past six, the Lightning groped for positives.
"Yeah, it feels like a loss, but I think when we break it down, I think we'll look at a lot of positives and we did do a lot of good things out there," said defenseman Steve Eminger, who saved a first-period goal by lunging to sweep the puck from an empty crease. "We're definitely going to take the positives."
Alex Kovalev and Maxim LaPierre beat goaltender Mike Smith in the shootout as the Lightning fell to 2-7 in those situations. Jussi Jokinen began the shootout with a goal, his second in his last two attempts, but Price stopped Vinny Prospal and Vinny Lecavalier.
Smith was typically solid just getting the Lightning (10-16-10) past overtime, making a glove save from his stomach as LaPierre fired at an open net with 1:38 left.
"The boys need me to make those saves right now," he said.
The Lightning had its chances in overtime, too, as resurgent Evegeny Artyukhin, who had goals in consecutive games, nearly finished it when he steamed into the offensive zone from the right side, crossed over and fired.
The Lightning took a 1-0 lead on the power play with 6:41 left in the first when Prospal pushed in a pass from Ryan Malone for his seventh goal of the season. Prospal hadn't scored in nine games. The better news for the Lightning was a breakthrough with the man advantage after going 4-for-51 dating back 11 games. It finished 1-for-5 on Tuesday.
After a second period of missed opportunities or just-made defensive plays by both teams — Montreal's Matt D'Agostini had a shot hit both pipes on a power play — the Canadiens tied the score just 46 seconds into the third as Guillaume Latendresse backhanded in a puck defenseman Andrej Meszaros had blocked in front of Smith.
Shake it off, Smith said.
"I think that's a top team in this league and we're battling to find our mojo," Smith said. "And I think we still played a decent hockey game, so we can't get too down."
|Canadiens win shootout 2-1|
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Prospal 7 (Malone, St. Louis), 13:18 (pp). Penalties—Meszaros, TB (elbowing), :15; Tanguay, Mon (holding), 2:14; Kostopoulos, Mon, served by G.Latendresse, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 7:09; Artyukhin, TB, major (fighting), 7:09; Ranger, TB (delay of game), 9:17; Hamrlik, Mon (high-sticking), 12:21; Krajicek, TB (slashing), 17:27.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Maxwell, Mon (hooking), 11:46; Lecavalier, TB (cross-checking), 13:55; Krajicek, TB (hooking), 17:23.
Third Period—2, Montreal, G.Latendresse 5 (Lapierre, Kostopoulos), :46. Penalties—Kovalev, Mon (high-sticking), 4:53; Halpern, TB (slashing), 6:51.
Shootout—Montreal 2 (Kovalev G, Lapierre G), Tampa Bay 1 (Jokinen G, Prospal NG, Lecavalier NG). Shots on Goal—Montreal 10-5-10-5—30. Tampa Bay 6-7-5-4—22. Power-play opportunities—Montreal 0 of 6; Tampa Bay 1 of 5. Goalies—Montreal, Price 16-4-5 (22 shots-21 saves). Tampa Bay, Smith 8-12-9 (30-29). A—20,454 (19,758). T—2:28. Referees—Don Koharski, Dan O'Rourke. Linesmen—Greg Devorski, Brian Mach.