Canadiens 5, Lightning 2

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MONTREAL (AP) – Tomas Plekanec scored his second goal of the game 6:01 into the third period, sending the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Plekanec, who entered with three goals in 38 games, beat Johan Holmqvist in the second for his first goal in 14 games to tie it at 1. The Czech forward connected again in the third for his second career multigoal game, giving Montreal its second and final lead. He hit the post later in the period.

Alex Kovalev, Michael Ryder and Christopher Higgins also scored for the Canadiens, who recovered from losing two straight in regulation for the first time this season.

Cristobal Huet made 21 saves in his fifth straight start for Montreal.

Defensemen Doug Janik and Filip Kuba scored Tampa Bay’s goals. Janik scored his first regular-season goal in the opening period, and Kuba tied it at 2 with his seventh of the season at 16:15 of the third.

Holmqvist stopped 22 shots for Tampa Bay, which has lost three of four following a three-game winning streak.

Janik, who scored a playoff goal for Buffalo last season and signed with the Lightning as a free agent in the offseason, got his first goal in his 50th career regular-season game – including 40 with Tampa Bay this season – when he beat Huet with a shot from the point 9:18 in.

Plekanec tied it with his fourth goal at 17:53, his first since Nov. 30.

Kovalev gave Montreal a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal 15:44 into the second. The Russian right wing beat Holmqvist with a wrist shot from the deep slot for his 10th of the season.

Kuba drew Tampa Bay even before public address announcer Michel Lacroix had finished giving the scoring details of Kovalev’s goal.

The Lightning defenseman slipped behind Montreal counterpart Craig Rivet to take Martin St. Louis’ pass from the right corner and beat Huet from the goalmouth at 16:15, quieting the sellout crowd of 21,273 by tying it at 2 just 31 seconds after Kovalev scored.

After Plekanec got his second of the game to put the Canadiens ahead for good, Ryder added his 11th goal at 13:52 to make it 4-2. Higgins scored his 12th into an empty net at 19:12.

Notes: Canadiens GM Bob Gainey attended his first game at the Bell Centre since his 25-year-old daughter Laura was lost at sea last month. … Lightning D Paul Ranger missed his second game in a row. … D Janne Niinimaa and LW Garth Murray were healthy scratches for Montreal. … The Canadiens have sold out 78 straight regular-season games.

AP-ES-01-02-07 2235EST

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