By Mark Didtler, The Associated Press on December 31, 2023.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Calvin de Haan ended his 46-game goal drought with the tiebreaking score in the third period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied past the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Sunday night.
The defenceman put Tampa Bay up 3-2 with a shot from the left circle at 7:49 off a pass from Nikita Kucherov, who became the first NHL player to reach 60 points this season.
Kucherov added an insurance goal before Nick Suzuki pulled Montreal to 4-3 with 2:05 left.
Tampa Bay backup Jonas Johansson made 27 saves in his first game since Dec. 7. The Lightning got also goals from Brayden Point and Austin Watson.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had an assist and set a franchise record by playing in his 1,038th game.
Johnathan Kovacevic scored from his own defensive zone and Cole Caufield had the other Montreal goal. Sam Montembeault stopped 16 shots.
Montembeault gloved a blue line shot by Darren Raddysh. After holding the puck for a few seconds with no whistle from the referees, the goalie dropped the puck to Kovacevic. The defenceman took a couple of strides forward and, seeing that most players thought play was stopped, including Johansson, who had skated into the corner, fired home a long-distance shot into the vacated net to make it 2-0 at 11:59 of the second.
Point and Watson scored later in the period to tie it 2-2. Watson, playing in his 500th game, sent a bouncing shot from along the left-wing boards that eluded Montembeault.
Caufield opened the scoring 3:58 into the second after he stole the puck from Stamkos deep in the Tampa Bay zone.
Lightning defenceman Erik Cernak left after taking a hard check behind the Tampa Bay net from Josh Anderson nine seconds after Caufield’s goal. Anderson was assessed a charging penalty.
Tampa Bay defenceman Haydn Fleury also left in the second after taking a shot off his right hand. Lightning forward Nicholas Paul skated off gingerly after being hit in the right knee by Stamkos’ shot in the third.
Montreal centre Christian Dvorak sat out with an upper-body injury.
Canadiens: Play at Dallas on Tuesday.
Lightning: Start a three-game trip Tuesday in Winnipeg.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL