Game 44: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens handed the Tampa Bay Lightning its fourth straight loss, defeating Tampa Bay 3-2 on Thursday night.

The Tampa Bay Lightning visited Montreal for the last time this season but failed to defeat the Canadiens, losing 3-2. The Lightning were down by two goals and had yet another comeback but Montreal forward Brian Gionta netted the game winner with 46.4 seconds left in the third period on the power play.

Despite the two goal deficit, Tampa Bay played a respectable 60 minutes of hockey.

For the first time in a few games, the Lightning had a decent first period although they failed to capitalize on any of their scoring chances. Tampa Bay hit at least three posts in the first period and had 10 shots on goal. It was one of their best first periods in quite sometime. Teddy Purcell, Steven Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier all hit a post in the first period.

The Montreal Canadiens opened up scoring at 4:04 of the second period when Alex Galachenyuk's wrist shot found its way in the net. Brendan Gallagher put the puck on net and Galachenyuk was able to finish off the play. Players scrambled in front of Ben Bishop prior to the goal and he could not get back into position before the goal was scored.

Much later in the period, Brian Gionta scored on a tip in at 15:05. Thomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty had the assists. An untimely giveaway by Lightning forward Ryan Malone led to the goal.

Although Tampa Bay trailed by two goals, they still had some momentum that carried over from their impressive first period. They began to become much more patient with the puck.

The Lightning created a flurry of chances in front of the Canadians net on the power play. At 17:36 of the second period, Victor Hedman passed the puck with ease to Richard Panik, who was parking in front of Montreal's net. Panik took the pass backhand to forehand and put the puck top shelf over Carey price to make it a 2-1 game, giving Panik five goals on the season.

In the third period, Tampa Bay seemed to find their legs. They were skating better and started shooting the puck more.

Hedman made another impressive defensive play, this time in the third period, when his stretch pass reached Pouliot, who passed it to Lecavalier. Lecavalier scored his tenth goal of the season at 5:07 of the third period to tie up the game at two.

What ultimately did the Lightning in was allowing the Canadians to have four power plays in the third period. Tampa Bay killed each one until the last that was called at 17:39 when Benoit Pouliot was called for holding.

Brian Gionta capitalized on the man advantage with 46.4 seconds left in the third period, sealing a win for Montreal.

Even though the Lightning lost its fourth straight game in a row, the look of the defense has improved since the last few games. At one point in the game, Tampa Bay was playing with four defensemen while Keith Aulie went to the locker room and Sami Salo left the game in the second period and did not return due to an undisclosed upper body injury.

The Lightning travel back to Tampa Bay and host the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday night.