Michael Ryder celebrates Alex Kovalev’s first-period goal. Ryder would score two of his own tonight.
Christinne Muschi, Reuters
Updated by Kevin Mio, links updated at 7:45 am on Friday.
The Canadiens made a simple New Year’s resolution: Win at
home. And for their first game at the Bell Centre in 2008, the Habs delivered with a 6-3 win over the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning thanks to a three-goal explosion during the third period. With the victory, Montreal improved its record on home ice to 7-7-4.
Andrei Kostisyn scored his 10th goal of the season eight minutes into the third period to give the Canadiens a 4-3 lead after the Habs squandered 2-0, 2-1 and 3-1 leads in the second period. Kyle Chipchura and Michael Ryder, with his second of the game, scored the other third-period goals for the Canadiens.
Alex Kovalev, who was presented the Molson Cup for December before the game, opened the scoring on the power play 14 minutes into the opening frame. Christopher Higgins made it 2-0 three minutes later, also with the man advantage.
Vincent Lecavalier got one back for Tampa Bay 49 seconds into the second period on a long outlet pass that was nearly offside, beating Cristobal Huet, who barely moved, with a shot hrough the legs.
Ryder, who appears to be back on track after struggling to find the back of the net for most of the season, scored his first goal of the game to make it 3-1 midway through the second period on a quick snap shot from the wing that beat Tampa Bay goaltender Karri Ramo. He now has six goals on the season.
But that lead didn’t last long as the Lightning got quick goals from Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal to tie the game 3-3 after two periods.
The Canadiens went 2-for-6 with the man advantage, while Tampa Bay was 1-for-5. Huet stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced. Ramo made 24 saves on 30 shots.
The Washington Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin are in town on Saturday for a matinee that starts at 12:30 p.m.
Michael Ryder puts his weight into a shaft-bending slap shot tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Dave Sandford, Getty Images