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PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference semifinals; Lightning lead 1-0
TIME: Sunday, 4 p.m. EDT.
Silent in the first round of the playoffs, Vincent Lecavalier has come alive against the team he idolized as a kid.
Lecavalier, a native of Montreal, scored two goals and added an assist as the Lightning cruised to a 4-0 win in Game 1 on Friday. The 24-year-old center didn't have a goal in 12 playoff games, dating to Game 4 of Tampa Bay's first-round victory over Washington last year.
"It feels good, especially to get the first win. But it's one game. There's still three left," Lecavalier said. "I'm happy tonight. The puck went in, but we've got to keep on going."
Lecavalier, who had 32 goals and 66 points during the regular season, went seven games without point, dating to a 5-4 loss to Ottawa on March 29. Tampa Bay's captain has four goals and eight points in five games against the Canadiens this season.
The Canadiens, though, have a lot more to worry about besides containing Lecavalier. They first have to figure out how to score against Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and also have to rediscover the energy that helped them overcome a 3-1 deficit in the first round against Boston.
Having a week off after eliminating the New York Islanders from the first round in five games, Tampa Bay was the fresher team in Game 1 as Khabibulin made 21 saves for his fourth shutout in the playoffs.
"He's played really well and that's the kind of goaltending you need in the playoffs," said Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, who had three assists in the win. "There's no secret. You can play as well as you can, but if you don't get the goaltending, it's tough."
The 31-year-old Khabibulin has a stellar .975 save percentage (158 of 162) and 0.66 goals-against average in the postseason.
The Canadiens didn't take their first shot until more than eight minutes had elapsed in the first period and the Lightning's aggressive forechecking limited Montreal to just five shots in the final period.
"We came out real flat," Montreal defenseman Craig Rivet said. "It seems like we were one step behind them. We'll put that one behind us, no big deal. We're looking to be a better team for next game and I think that we will be."
Montreal coach Claude Julien wasn't sure why his team lacked energy.
"I don't know if it's the effects of the last series or just being prepared well enough again," Julien said. "The one thing we do know is that we have to make adjustments."
Ruslan Fedotenko scored the Lightning's first goal at 2:42 of the second period when Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore was caught out of position after bending down to pick up his stick. Lecavalier scored his first goal at 16:53 of the period for a 2-0 lead. The Canadiens likened the game to a 3-0 loss to Boston in the opener of their first-round series.
"The first game in Boston,we just didn't show up," center Saku Koivu said, "and we didn't show up tonight."
The series will shift to the Bell Centre for Game 3 on Tuesday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Canadiens - 7th seed; beat Boston Bruins 4-3, quarterfinals. Lightning - 1st seed; beat New York Islanders 4-1, quarterfinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Alexei Kovalev, 5 goals; Koivu, 8 assists and 10 points; Sheldon Souray, 31 PIM. Lightning - St. Louis, 4 goals and 8 PIM; Fredrik Modin, 5 assists; Modin and St. Louis 8 points.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 10.0 percent (3 for 31). Penalty killing: 93.3 percent (28 for 30). Lightning - Power play: 7.1 percent (2 for 28). Penalty killing: 89.9 percent (16 for 18).
GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (4-4, 1 SO, 2.16 GAA); Mathieu Garon (0-0, 0.00). Lightning - Khabibulin (5-1, 4, 0.66); John Grahame (no appearances).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: 2-2. The Canadiens won the first two meetings, but the Lightning scored nine goals in taking the final two. St. Louis had four goals and two assists for Tampa Bay, while Koivu led Montreal with three goals and seven points.