NHL

Lecavalier, Niittymaki star as Lightning shut out Canadiens

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The Canadian Press
1/28/2010 3:12:49 AM
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Key goals and strong goaltending paid off for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who finally have their first three-game winning streak of the season.

Vincent Lecavalier scored a nifty goal and added an assist, Antero Niittymaki made 33 saves and the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 on Wednesday night.

"Big saves. He played great," Lecavalier said about Niittymaki, who made his seventh consecutive start.

Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos also scored for Tampa Bay, which has its first three-game winning streak since beating the Canadiens on Jan. 27, 2009.

"They answered the bell," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said.

Lecavalier gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead at 2:23 of the second when he put his stick between his legs and sent a shot past goalie Carey Price.

"It was kind of scramble play and those good players find a way to make a good play," Price said.

Niittymaki recorded his first shutout of the season and fifth overall. He made a glove save during a first-period breakaway by Montreal left-winger Benoit Pouliot.

"Early in the game it's big," Niittymaki said. "They might get the momentum there if the guy scores."

Montreal was coming off a 2-1 loss Tuesday night at Florida. Canadiens coach Jacques Martin remains tied for ninth place on the career NHL coaching victory list (542) with Billy Reay.

"It's disappointing to come down here and play two, for the most part, uninspired games," Canadiens defenceman Ryan O'Byrne said.

The Canadiens have lost five of seven.

"No one's going to feel sorry for us," Montreal centre Scott Gomez said. "We've got to regroup. We've got to come up with a new game plan and go at it again."

St. Louis put the Lightning up 1-0, converting a pass from Steve Downie at 9:50 of the first period.

After Lecavalier scored early in the second, Stamkos made it 3-0 on his 28th goal this season from the left circle during a power play with 14:06 left in the period.

"All in all, Tampa had a great game from minute zero to minute 60," Price said.

Montreal left-winger Michael Cammalleri had his five-game points streak (five goals, eight points) end.

The teams were sent to their locker-rooms with 1:38 left in the second to allow for the repair of a broken pane of glass. After a normal between periods break, the third period was started immediately after the remaining time in second was played.

NOTES: Stamkos has goals in three straight games. ... Montreal D Jaroslav Spacek didn't play due to the flu. ... Lightning G Mike Smith returned as the backup after missing the previous six games because of a strained neck. ... Montreal D Paul Mara (upper body) missed his third straight game.

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