TAMPA, FLA. - Centre Lars Eller scored the only goal in the shootout and goaltender Carey Price stopped all three shots he faced as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay (23-11-4) entered the game two points ahead of Montreal (23-13-3) for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Tampa Bay swarmed the Canadiens in the third period, completely reversing the momentum of the first two periods. But Montreal was again the aggressor in overtime as centre Tomas Plekanec forced Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop to make a game-saver from close range.
The goal was Eller's ninth of the season.
Montreal took a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the second period when Plekanec skated onto a pass from right winger Brian Gionta in the high slot and bull-rushed the net to beat Bishop from close range. Centre Alex Killorn draped on Plekanec as he advanced but was unable to prevent Plekanec's 13th goal of the season. Gionta and left winger Trevor Moen provided assists.
Bishop had allowed the Lightning to survive the first period in a scoreless tie despite constant Montreal pressure. Bishop sprawled to smother a tip by right winger Brandon Prust with 12:29 left in the period and held his position on a Plekanec breakaway to make a glove save on a snap shot fading to his left with 10:25 remaining. Bishop was later bailed out by three shots bouncing off the pipes.
Right winger Martin St. Louis tied the score at 1 with 8:17 left in the second period. The Lightning captain recovered a pass he bobbled on the end of a breakout to snap his team-leading 17th goal of the season over Price's shoulder as centre Tyler Johnson provided a screen. Johnson and left winger Ondrej Palat were credited with assists.
NOTES: Tampa Bay RW Martin St. Louis has goals in four consecutive games. ... Montreal C Tomas Plekanec scored goals in consecutive games four times this season. ... Montreal's leading goal scorer, LW Max Pacioretty, went to the locker room after being struck in the face with a deflected puck with 10:52 left in the first period but returned in the second. ... Montreal entered the game 3-for-29 on the power play in its last 10 games, but fourth best in the league at 23.2 percent on the road. ... Tampa Bay recalled D Dmitry Korobov from AHL Syracuse. His recall was necessitated because of upper-body injuries to D Eric Brewer and D Sami Salo. ... Lightning RW Ryan Malone participated in his first full-squad practice since breaking his ankle in November, but is not expected to return until January.