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SWEET VICTORY HAS A SOUR TINGE

Prospal keys the Lightning win, then has unpleasant words, apparently for Tortorella.

Lightning forward Vinny Prospal celebrated his second goal Tuesday night, the winner as it turned out, by dropping to his knees and pumping his fist.

He punctuated it after Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory over the Canadiens by ripping coach John Tortorella in a Sun Sports television interview that also was telecast over the St. Pete Times Forum scoreboard.

Well, it seemed as if his comments were aimed at Tortorella, though neither Prospal nor the coach would talk about what was said or the 25-minute closed-door meeting between the two and general manager Jay Feaster.

"Ah, I'm not worried about that," Tortorella said. "I'm worried about the team winning."

Prospal, who tied his career high with 25 goals, tells Sun Sports' Paul Kennedy: "It's the greatest satisfaction in my career," adding he felt as if he showed somebody up.

Kennedy asked to whom Prospal was referring.

"I would like to think," Prospal said, "they know who they are."

The game was one of redemption for Prospal, who was reunited with linemates Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.

It also was the second straight game in which Prospal scored the winner.

"When I go out there with those two guys, it's like being on the best line in hockey," Prospal said. "Marty and Vinny found me all night."

Lecavalier assisted on both of Prospal's goals. Michel Ouellet scored his first in seven games since returning from a separated left shoulder, and goaltender Karri Ramo made 19 saves, including a brilliant one on Siarhei Kastsitsyn with 13.2 seconds left in which he did the split.

It was an important victory as Tampa Bay (24-27-6 and with 54 points) stayed seven points behind Carolina, which won to take over first place in the Southeast. It also was a satisfying win as Montreal entered as the league's second-best road team with 38 points while Tampa Bay was on a 3-10-1 streak at home.

But the focus turned to Prospal, who played 17:50, was plus-2 had a game-high six shots.

"I hope I'm not done," he said after his fifth goal in seven games. "It feels really good."

Asked about his Sun Sports comments, Prospal said, "I'd rather not talk about it if you don't mind."

"A lot of players are (mad) at me," Tortorella said. "I'm not here to be the happy man, and make everybody happy. I'm here to make calls as far as the game is concerned, and athletes that are mad, to me, are good athletes."

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