TAMPA — Lars Eller scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Canadiens a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Eller, who is 3-for-3 on the season in shootouts, said he used some inside information to beat Ben Bishop on the Canadiens’ opening shot. Said Eller: “I played with him in Peoria so I had an idea what I wanted to do. I wanted to get him moving laterally and then I cut across. I didn’t get the puck as high as I wanted to but it went in.” Carey Price sealed the win by stopping Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Kucherov and Ted Purcell.
What it means: The Canadiens snapped Tampa’s five-game win streak, but the one point for the shootout loss allowed the Lightning to maintain second place in the Atlantic Division with 50 points, one more than the Canadiens. Tampa also holds a game in hand.
Captains lead the way: Tomas Plekanec gave Montreal a 1-0 lead when captain Brian Gionta threaded a pass through traffic and Plekanec lifted the puck past Bishop at 5:15 of the second period. It was his 13th goal of the season. Tampa captain Martin St. Louis evened the score at 11:43 when he beat Price high on the glove side. It was No. 17 this season for St. Louis.
Slow start: The teams looked as if they were coming off a holiday break in the first period. Tampa went more than 11 minutes before registering its first shot. Montreal had a 7-3 edge in shots, but failed to get a shot on two power plays. The Lightning had one power play and also failed to register a shot. Each team finished the game 0-for-3 on the power play.
Iron men: Head coach Michel Therrien noted it was a game of inches and might not have gone to overtime if the Canadiens’ hadn’t hit three posts. Rene Bourque hit two and Andrei Markov found one.
Injury update: Max Pacioretty left the game after he was struck in the face by a puck midway through the first period. He returned in the second period after receiving several stitches.
Impressive pipes: The best performance of the night was turned in by tenor Daniel Rodriguez, who did an excellent job on both anthems. The former New York City policeman achieved fame for performing in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy and has been dubbed America’s Tenor.
What’s next: The Canadiens move across the state to play the Florida Panthers on Sunday (5 p.m., RDS, TSN-690 Radio). They wrap up the holiday road trip with a New Year’s Eve game in Carolina followed by a Jan. 2 date in Dallas.
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