Series (Game 1 of 4)

Tampa Bay leads 3-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 12th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 22nd
Game 3: Saturday, March 15th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 2nd

Lightning 3

(14-10-3, 34 pts)

Canadiens 2

(12-11-2, 30 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 12, 2002

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1 2 3 T
TB 0 1 23
MTL 1 0 12

M. St. Louis (Lightning - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

B. Richards (Lightning - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

C. Kilger (Canadiens - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Tampa Bay gets first road win since Nov. 23

MONTREAL (AP) -- Brad Richards made sure the Tampa Bay Lightning returned home on a high.

Richards had three points, including an assist on Martin St. Louis' 17th goal with 5:52 remaining in the third period to lead the Lightning to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

St. Louis took a pass from Richards as he streaked down the right side and fired a wrist shot over goalie Jeff Hackett's right shoulder as Tampa Bay ended a four-game road trip by snapping a three-game losing streak (0-2-0-1).

"This is huge to finish that sequence," Richards said. "When you win a game at the end of the road trip, sometimes it brings more momentum home. Even if we had won in Minnesota, if you lose the last game you go home feeling a little down, but now we're going home on a high and we can take over from there."

Nikolai Khabibulin made 18 saves for the Lightning -- winless in six previous road games. Tampa Bay earned its first road win since Nov. 23.

"They scored on the first shot and it was not the start that I would like to have, especially after being pulled last game," Khabibulin said. "I tried to hang in there and the guys really tried hard in front of me. They were clearing the front of the net and I could see all the shots so that helped a lot."

Richards, who extended his point streak to six games, assisted on Dan Boyle's power-play goal midway through the second before scoring his fifth of the season 2:54 into the third to put the Lightning ahead 2-1.

"We're always ready to play here," Richards said. "It's just such a great place to play. It's not just us. Any hockey player that comes in here wants to play, and wants to play a lot and be a part of it. It's just the tradition, and the city, and the people -- it's fun to play here."

Montreal captain Saku Koivu scored off a goalmouth scramble 1:57 after Richards' goal to tie it at 4:51. Chad Kilger, who assisted on Koivu's goal, opened the scoring with his third goal in four games 5:29 in.

"I think we played hard and we played well, but the bottom line is they came out with two points and we came out empty," Koivu said. "It's a tough loss."

Hackett made 31 saves in his third straight start in place of league MVP Jose Theodore, who allowed all seven goals in a 7-6 overtime loss in Colorado on Dec. 6.

"The puck was rolling a little bit and I didn't give him much because I checked after," Hackett said about St. Louis' game-winner. "Of course I wish I could have it again, but it was a great shot." The Canadiens had won two straight after winning just once in seven games (1-4-0-2).

After Kilger's third of the season put Montreal up 1-0, Boyle -- who scored twice in Tampa Bay's 5-3 loss in Minnesota on Tuesday -- got his fourth in four games. He put Vincent Lecavalier's rebound off Hackett's blocker into an open left side.

Richards beat Hackett from the slot on an unassisted effort 2:54 into the third, but the Canadiens came back to tie it moments later on Koivu's second effort from the edge of the crease.

Game notes

Boyle went 22 games without a goal from Oct. 21 to Dec. 5. Four of his six goals this season have come on the power play. ... Richards has two goals and seven assists over the course of his streak. ... Kilger had just two assists and was a healthy scratch in seven of the Canadiens' first 25 games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press