Saturday, November 7, 2009

Niittymaki and Tanguay lead Lightning to 3-1 Win Over Habs


Antero Niitymaki made 36 saves, against a team he had struggled with is his career, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens (8-9-0).

Ryan Malone, Vincent Lecavalier and former Canadien Alex Tanguay each had two-point night for the Lightning.

Malone put Tampa Bay on the board in the first period, with a power play marker, at 10:09 and Tanguay made it a two-goal lead when he scooped up a fat Carey Price rebound, with 46 seconds remaining in the period.

“It’s always interesting to play here (in Montreal),” said Tanguay who received a warm reaction from the Bell Centre crowd. “The fans were very respectful tonight. It’s a great city to play in.”

With his goal Saturday night, Tanguay has scored against every team in the NHL.

Brian Gionta responded for Montreal,  scoring on the power play, after he demonstrated his hand-eye coordination by batting the puck out of the air past Niittymaki at 9:44 of the second period.

The Canadiens put the pressure on the Lightning throughout the second period looking for a tying goal, but James Wright put an insurance goal in late in the period after he found a loose puck in front of Price.


“It hurt us, but we came out in the third,” said Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri. “It didn’t break us emotionally".

“It was an inconsistent effort in the first half of the game,” Gionta added. “It hurts your momentum. It’s a tough one.”

The Canadiens fired 15 shots at Niittymaki in the each of the final two periods, but could not solve the Finnish goalie.

Coming into Saturday’s game, Niittymaki had a 1-8-1 record against the Canadiens.

"I saw that stat this morning and I said 'Wow, I've had some good games here,"' Niittymaki said. "The stats don't show that, but I hope they're a little better after tonight."

Most of Montreal’s shots easily found the Tampa netminder and the tough ones were quickly protected, denying the home team few rebound opportunities.


“We need to to a better job and stay in the goalie’s face,” said Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec. “It’s something we have to work on.”

Two players expected to be in front of opposing goalies for the Canadiens are Maxim Lapierre and Guillaume Latendresse. Both forwards were benched by coach Jacques Martin in the third period.

“We needed  people that were ready to go to war,” Martin said on shortening his bench. “I felt that we had to win some battles and get some production.”

Ryan White (four hits) and Andrei Kostitsyn had started the night on the fourth line and soon found themselves on the first line with Plekanec.

The Canadiens will have a public practice on Sunday morning and return to game play on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.

Three Stars: 1. Antero Niittymaki 2. Ryan Malone 3. Scott Gomez

Game photos: Montreal Gazette

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