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Plekanec the OT hero as Canadiens knock off Lightning

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The Canadian Press
12/30/2009 10:45:38 PM
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Tomas Plekanec had an eventful day.

Plekanec scored at 3:32 of overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.

"Not bad. No complaints today," said Plekanec, who earlier in the day was selected to the Czech Republic Olympic team. "I hope there'll be more days like that."

Plekanec beat Mike Smith on a 2-on-1 after a Tampa Bay turnover for his ninth goal.

"I'm trying to look at the guy who's coming with me, trying to look at him as long as I can," Plekanec said. "Then, just a no-look shot. That's why that shot is kind of a fluke, but sometimes it gets the goalie focused on the pass."

Brian Gionta also scored, and Carey Price made 34 saves for the Canadiens, 5-1 on a season-high seven-game trip.

Kurtis Foster scored for Tampa Bay.

"Really disappointed the first two periods. It was disheartening," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "When you're .500 you can't afford to be flat."

Gionta, playing in his second game after missing 21 games because of a foot injury, put the Canadiens up 1-0 from the low slot at 9:53 of the second. Foster tied it on a blue-line shot at 3:52 of the third.

Smith stopped all 14 shots he faced during the first, including in-close chances by Plekanec, Andrei Markov and Travis Moen.

"Montreal came out and played their game and played a very strong game," Foster said. "We made a lot of mistakes at the wrong times. Smitty did a great job keeping us in the game."

Smith had his neck and upper back looked at after a pileup in the crease halfway through the first. His mask required repair work before play resumed.

Price turned aside Martin St. Louis' shot from low left-circle early in the third.

"I felt like the ice was a little bit tilted at times for both teams," Price said. "We just kept at it."

Canadiens centre Scott Gomez took Foster's slapshot off his leg in the first and then struggled skating to the bench. Gomez was back on the ice a couple minutes later and assisted on Ginota's second-period goal, which gave him six assists and seven points over his last four games.

NOTES: St. Louis and teammate Vincent Lecavalier were among the players under serious consideration, but not selected to play for Canada in the 2010 Olympics. "When you're told that you're not going to participate and be in this experience, it's hard to take," said St. Louis, who had an assist that extended his points streak to six games (seven assists, nine points). "You've just got to accept it, not be happy with it. You have to move on and there's no better way to do that than play in a hockey game instead of being at home and thinking about it." ... Montreal D Roman Hamrlik returned after missing the previous six games because of a knee injury. ... Markov assisted on Ginota's goal for a six-game points streak (five assists, eight points).

Mike Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec and Josh Gorges (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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