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Stamkos powers Lightning past Habs, 4-1 @NHL

Steven Stamkos rang out the old year in style.

Stamkos scored twice, once on a penalty shot, and set up two more goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning closed out 2010 by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Thursday night before a packed house at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Stamkos made it 3-1 at 1:46 of the third with his penalty-shot goal, a backhander past Carey Price after a spin move in the slot. He opted for the new move due to his lackluster career shootout record of four goals in 17 tries, including 0-for-3 this season.

"I've done that probably 10 times in practice and it's worked every time," Stamkos said. "I said 'What the heck, I'll give it a try.' I probably surprised Price. I've never done that before. I'm just happy it went in."

Montreal coach Jacques Martin said the goal "broke our back early in the third."

"He's a great player," Martin added. "Great determination."

Stamkos added some insurance by scoring on a wraparound at 4:40. He's second to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby with 31 goals and finished 2010 with 61, the most of anyone in the NHL. Crosby was second with 60.

That was more than enough support for rookie goalie Cedric Desjardins. The former Montreal minor leaguer, obtained by the Lightning in an offseason trade, made 27 saves to win his NHL debut. The 25-year old played for Lightning coach Guy Boucher last season with Hamilton of the AHL.

"It's kind of Hollywood to play them my first game," Desjardins said. "They gave me my chance at 20 years old and I'll always be respectful for that. It's a day I won't forget."

Martin St. Louis and Pavel Kubina also scored for Tampa Bay, now 7-1-1 in its last nine games.

Max Pacioretty scored 58 seconds into the game for the Canadiens, who have lost eight of 10.

"Right now, the way things are going, obviously we're a fragile team," Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. "We've got to figure out how to stop it."

The Canadiens finish a seven-game trip Friday at Florida -- their third game in four days

"Things just fell apart, but we'll come out of this," Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said.

St. Louis tied it at 1 by beating Price from just below the right circle during a 5-on-3 power play at 2:48 of the second. The goal came after Montreal took two too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties in 45 seconds.

"We got the lead early and then the lack of focus and lack of concentration cost us some penalties," Martin said.

Kubina snapped a personal 34-game goal drought and gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 6:29 left in the second.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
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