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Markov and Kastsitsyn scored 24 seconds apart as Montreal beats Tampa Bay 5-2 @NHLdotcom

TAMPA, Fla. - Andrei Markov and Andrei Kostsitsyn scored 24 seconds apart early in the third period, Cristobal Huet made 28 saves and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Thursday night.

Maxim Lapierre, Guillaume Latendresse and Alex Kovalev also scored for the Canadiens, who had lost two straight.

Vinny Prospal and Jan Hlavac scored third-period goals for the slumping Lightning, who have lost eight of 10. Tampa Bay has scored two goals or fewer during regulation in 10 of 11 games.

Markov's goal 44 seconds into the third during a power play put Montreal up 4-0. Kostsitsyn made it a five-goal lead at 1:08.

Lapierre put the Canadiens ahead 1-0 during a 2-on-1 at 10:20 of the first. Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella used his timeout after Latendresse scored on the rebound to make it 2-0 with 7:12 left in the first.

Johan Holmqvist was pulled for the fourth time in five starts early in the second after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Holmqvist, who didn't play in the previous three games after Tampa Bay recalled rookie Karri Ramo from AHL Norfolk on Dec. 19, returned for the final 13 minutes of the game.

Holmqvist went to the bench after Kovalev's shot from the right circle deflected off Tampa Bay defenceman Filip Kuba for a 3-0 Montreal advantage 10 seconds into the middle period. Holmqvist was replaced by Ramo, who made several strong saves including one against Christopher Higgins on a short-handed breakaway.

Prospal had a rebound goal at 6:15 of the third. Hlavac broke a 17-game goal drought in the final minute.

Notes: Lightning G Marc Denis, who lost his starting role last season, has been a healthy scratch four straight games. He is in the second season of a US$8.6-million, three-year contract. ... Montreal RW Michael Ryder returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratched the previous three games. ... Canadiens D Patrice Brisebois (shoulder), LW Steve Begin (shoulder) and C Bryan Smolinski (knee) all remain sidelined by injuries. Brisebois and Begin could return in one to two weeks. Smolinski could miss another three weeks. ... Tampa Bay D Doug Janik assisted on Prospal's goal. It was his first point in 34 games.

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