MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens got offense from an unexpected source to end their longest skid -- brief as it was -- of the season.
Plekanec, who entered with three goals in 38 games, beat Johan Holmqvist in the second for his first goal in 14 games to tie it at 1. The Czech forward connected again in the third for his second career multigoal game, giving Montreal its second and final lead. He hit the post later in the period.
"Tonight was a good night for me and I hope it's going to keep going for as long as possible," Plekanec said.
Cristobal Huet made 21 saves in his fifth straight start for Montreal, which earned only two points in the previous four games (1-3-0).
"There was no panic in this room," said Huet, who made a pad save to deny Vincent Lecavalier on a breakaway before Plekanec's second goal. "We knew we had to get back to a good team work ethic, and it wasn't easy against those guys because they skate very hard and they pressure you all over the ice, but we won the battle."
Defensemen Doug Janik and Filip Kuba scored Tampa Bay's goals. Janik scored his first regular-season goal in the opening period, and Kuba tied it at 2 with his seventh of the season at 16:15 of the second.
"All losses are tough," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We're in a good spot, 2-2 going into the third period, we have a chance to score and we don't get the lead, which I think is very important on a breakaway, and then we get beat out of the corner and they score their third goal.
"The fourth goal, we ice the puck and it ends up in the back of our net so we still have some work to do on details and trying to find our way to gain consistency here, but we'll look at some tape (Wednesday) and start getting ready for the next game."
Holmqvist stopped 22 shots for Tampa Bay, which has lost three of four following a three-game winning streak.
"It's frustrating, very frustrating. I'm as much at a loss for words as anybody," said Brad Richards, who assisted on Kuba's goal. "I don't have the answer. We've just got to keep trying to get more consistent with our game."
Janik, who scored a playoff goal for Buffalo last season and signed with the Lightning as a free agent in the offseason, got his first goal in his 50th career regular-season game -- including 40 with Tampa Bay this season -- when he beat Huet with a shot from the point 9:18 in.
Plekanec tied it with his fourth goal at 17:53, his first since Nov. 30.
Kovalev gave Montreal a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal 15:44 into the second. The Russian right wing beat Holmqvist with a wrist shot from the deep slot for his 10th of the season.
Kuba drew Tampa Bay even before public address announcer Michel Lacroix had finished giving the scoring details of Kovalev's goal.
The Lightning defenseman slipped behind Montreal counterpart Craig Rivet to take Martin St. Louis' pass from the right corner and beat Huet from the goalmouth at 16:15, quieting the sellout crowd of 21,273 by tying it at 2 just 31 seconds after Kovalev scored.
After Plekanec got his second of the game to put the Canadiens ahead for good, Ryder added his 11th goal at 13:52 to make it 4-2. Higgins scored his 12th into an empty net at 19:12.
Canadiens GM Bob Gainey attended his first game at the Bell Centre since his 25-year-old daughter Laura was lost at sea last month. ... Lightning D Paul Ranger missed his second game in a row. ... D Janne Niinimaa and LW Garth Murray were healthy scratches for Montreal. ... The Canadiens have sold out 78 straight regular-season games.