Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier (4) and Brad Richards (19) congratulate Vaclav Prospal after Prospal's goal. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Steve Nesius
TAMPA, Fla. - Vaclav Prospal had an eventful night.
Prospal scored twice, including the go-ahead goal midway through the third, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Tuesday night.
The Tampa Bay centre, who has been unhappy about being dropped recently from the top line, also expressed his happiness at making an unnamed person look bad during a post-game TV interview.
Prospal then spent about 25 minutes, still in full gear, in Lightning coach John Tortorella's office. Prospal declined to address the matter with reporters.
"Let's just talk about the game," said Prospal, who returned to the top line in the second. "A great two points for us. I'm just happy to be part of tonight."
Tortorella also didn't talk about his meeting with Prospal.
"I'm not here to be the happy man, make everybody happy," Tortorella said. "I make calls as far as the game is concerned. Athletes that are mad can be good athletes. He played well, very well."
Prospal made it 3-2 at 11:51 of the third off a pass from Vincent Lecavalier, who stole the puck behind Montreal's net. The goal was Prospal's 25th of the season, which equals his career high, set during the 2005-06 season.
Michel Ouellet also scored, and Lecavalier had two assists for the Lightning, who have won four of six.
Christopher Higgins and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal, which has lost three in a row. The Canadiens were outshot 36-21.
"We're never going to worry," Higgins said. "When we play the right way, we're going to win. We just haven't been skating the last three games, and it shows."
Canadiens defenceman Ryan O'Byrne was in the lineup, while right-wing Tom Kostopoulos didn't play a day after the pair were arrested outside a Tampa nightclub. Police said O'Byrne, a 23-year-old rookie, was accused of stealing a woman's purse. Kostopoulos, 29, was charged with resisting an officer.
O'Byrne, who played just under 15 minutes, said he was able to concentrate on the game.
"I'm a professional," O'Byrne said. "There's always stuff going on in your life and obviously this is an unfortunate circumstance. The fans are going to have something to say, but all I can do is go out and play and earn my spot and help this team win games."
It was the fourth time in 15 games that Kostopoulos has been scratched.
Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet made 33 saves, and said Monday's incident wasn't a distraction.
"I think it was the opposite," Huet said. "We just tried to play our best game for those guys and not have to take those questions."
Higgins scored a breakaway goal 50 seconds in, putting Montreal on the board quickly in the opening period, in which the teams combined for four goals.
Ouellet tied it for Tampa Bay at 1 at 5:15 of the first.
After Plekanec's power-play goal put the Canadiens ahead 2-1 at 9:48, Prospal pulled the Lightning even at 2 with 40.4 seconds left in the first.
Tampa Bay's Karri Ramo preserved the win by making an in-close save on Sergei Kostitsyn with 13.2 seconds left in the third.
"They made a pretty play on the back door," said Ramo, who finished with 19 saves. "It was so good a play I think the guy kind of missed the puck. It came under me and I was able to get it done there."
Notes: A fan was struck by a puck just below the throat during the third period and was taken to an area hospital for a precautionary exam. The Lightning said the injury isn't thought to be serious. ... Canadiens D Roman Hamrlik missed his fourth straight game with the flu. ... Tampa Bay D Brad Lukowich sat out due to a lower body injury.
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