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Lightning blank Canadiens 3-0

by Brian Compton
One year to the day since their last three-game winning streak, the Tampa Bay Lightning accomplished the feat again on Wednesday night.

Vincent Lecavalier had a goal and an assist and Antero Niittymaki stopped all 33 shots he faced as the Lightning made it three in a row for the first time since Jan. 27, 2009, with a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"Big saves … he played great," Lecavalier said of Niittymaki, who notched the fifth shutout of his career.

Ironically, Tampa Bay also defeated Montreal last January for its third straight win. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos also scored for the Lightning.

St. Louis broke a scoreless tie 9:50 into the game when he took a pass from Steve Downie and ripped a shot from the low slot past Carey Price (27 saves) for his 14th goal of the season.

Lecavalier then gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead at 2:23 of the second on a nifty play. With the teams at even strength, Lecavalier put his stick between his legs and flipped a shot past Price for his 14th of the season.

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

Stamkos made it 3-0 with his team-leading 28th goal this season, a shot from the left circle during a power play with 14:06 left in the second period.

"They answered the bell," Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said of his team.

Montreal, which has dropped five of its last seven, 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. Mike Cammalleri had his five-game points streak snapped.

"No one's going to feel sorry for us," said Habs center Scott Gomez, who dropped the gloves with rookie defenseman Victor Hedman during the second period. "We've got to regroup. We've got to come up with a new game plan and go at it again."

Stars 4, Flames 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Loui Eriksson scored the lone goal in the shootout and Alex Auld made 23 saves as Dallas rallied from a two-goal deficit and handed Calgary its eighth straight loss by winning at the American Airlines Center.

Dallas, 4-7 in shootouts this season, won its fourth straight at home.

"We did a really good job of keeping the pressure on them," said Auld, who started for the fourth time in the last six games. "We had a couple of power plays, and we were able to capitalize."

Kiprusoff received two slashing penalties in the final minute of overtime to give the Stars a two-man advantage, but the Stars failed to convert.

Dion Phaneuf, Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen scored for the Flames, who are 0-6-2 in their last eight games.

"It was a tough loss, but it's a point in the right direction," Iginla said. "For two periods, we played really good. We knew they'd be desperate because they're trying to claw back in the race for the playoffs and go ahead of us."

Mike Modano scored his 553rd career goal at 3:58 of the first period, his fourth in seven games. But Calgary capitalized twice in rapid succession during a power play resulting from a match penalty to Mark Fistric. Phaneuf tied it at 11:04 before Iginla gave the Flames the lead just 23 seconds later.

Fistric was assessed the match penalty in addition to a fighting major after making contact with Eric Nystrom's helmet. Fistric dislodged Nystrom's helmet as the players wrestled, Fistric was given the match penalty after using the helmet as a weapon.

"It's unfortunate that Mark Fistric got the ejection from the game," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "He doesn't have a history of anything like that and I thought it was accidental, but the referee's got to call it how he sees it. The adversity came when we were on the penalty kill."

Jokinen made it 3-1 at 11:37 of the second period when he shoveled a rebound past Auld, but James Neal cut the deficit in half when he redirected a shot past Kiprusoff with only 24 seconds left.

Brad Richards tied the game when he capitalized on a two-man advantage 7:35 into the third period. With the victory, Dallas improved to 12-2-2 in its last 16 home games.

"For two periods we were on our game," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "It was the last goal in the last minute (of the second period) that we gave up. That put us on our heels in the third period. It allowed them to dictate play in the third. When you're up 3-1, you've got to win that game."

Hurricanes 5, Rangers 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

If the Carolina Hurricanes want to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement and into the playoff race, they're going to need as many wins as possible against teams they are chasing over their final 30 games of the season.
On Wednesday night they did just that, handing the New York Rangers a 5-1 loss at Madison Square Garden and picking up an important two points. The loss was the Rangers' fourth straight and they've scored just three goals during the skid.

To read's complete 'Canes-Rangers recap, click HERE.

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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