MONTREAL (AP) — Montreal coach Claude Julien felt a hot goaltender prevented the Canadiens from getting the result they deserved.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 38 shots and the Tampa Bay Lightning extended their winning streak to five games with a 2-1 win over the Canadiens on Thursday night.
Montreal lost its fourth straight.
“The effort was there all night,” Julien said. “We played a good game. Not the result we wanted. That’s the frustrating situation we’re in right now. You want your team to be rewarded for their effort.
“We’re working hard, we’re getting chances, but we ran into a good goaltender tonight.”
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Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning (22-13-4). Vasilevskiy improved to 10-1-2 all-time against Montreal.
“I felt very good,” said Vasilevskiy, who collected his 18th win of the season. “Lots of shots against and I stayed in the game the whole time. I’ve said this before: it’s easier for me to play with 30 or 40 shots against, than 10 shots against.
“We did a great job blocking shots too.”
Defenseman Jeff Petry scored for the Canadiens (18-17-6), who have lost four games in a row. Carey Price made 21 saves in Montreal’s first home game after a seven-game trip.
Tampa Bay improved to 15-2-0 against Atlantic-division opponents this season.
All the scoring came in the first period.
It took 42 seconds for the Lightning to score on their first shot on goal. Erik Cernak threw the puck on net and Cirelli deflected it past Price. Price has allowed 11 goals in his past two starts, losses to Tampa and Florida.
Petry tied the score for Montreal at 5:48, as a penalty to the Bolts expired. The defenseman waited patiently for Alex Killorn to exit the shooting lane before firing a perfectly placed shot from the blue line into the top corner of the net.
Tampa made it 2-1 less than three minutes later. Price misplayed the puck behind his goal and turned it over to Brayden Point, who fed Kucherov in front for his 14th of the season.
Vasilevskiy did his part to keep the Habs at bay. The Lightning goaltender denied Max Domi with the pad save midway through the first and made a nice save on rookie Nick Suzuki late in the period.
Vasilevskiy stopped another 14 shots in the second and 13 in the third for his seventh straight win against Montreal. Tampa players blocked an additional 21 shots in the game.
“We played them real hard,” said Nick Suzuki, who had two shots. “We were creating a lot of chances, forechecking really well, winning puck battles. Our chances just didn’t go in the net. It could have been 3-2 early on.
“It’s been a rough four games. We want to go back to keeping things simple. I think this was a step in the right direction.”
The Canadiens lacked firepower without Brendan Gallagher, out indefinitely with a concussion sustained in Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat in Carolina. Gallagher missed his first game since Feb. 2017, snapping a streak of 229 starts.
The recently recalled Dale Weise made his season debut in Gallagher’s absence, while forward Nick Cousins was promoted to the first line. Cousins had five shots on goal.
NOTES: The Canadiens made two trades prior to the game. Montreal acquired defenseman Marco Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2020 fourth-round pick. The Canadiens also traded defenseman Mike Reilly to the Ottawa Senators for forward Andrew Sturtz and a 2021 fifth-round pick. ... Petry has nine points in his past six games. … The Lightning defeated Montreal 5-4 in Tampa Bay last Saturday.
Lightning: At Ottawa on Saturday.
Canadiens: Host Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
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