Canadiens top Lightning despite losing pair of 2-goal leads

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens finished strong for a rare home win at the expense of the NHL's worst road team.

Michael Ryder had his first two-goal game of the season and Montreal scored three times in the third period Thursday night for a 6-3 victory over the slumping Tampa Bay Lightning.

After allowing three goals in the second to blow a two-goal lead, the Canadiens went up 4-3 at 7:51 of the third when Andrei Kostitsyn put a sharp-angled shot into the net off rookie goalie Karri Ramo's glove for his third goal in two games.

"It wasn't like they were taking it to us," said Montreal left wing Chris Higgins, who finished with a goal and two assists. "We just gave them a couple of goals, sloppy play in our own end, and we just wanted to rebound and get that next goal. Andrei came in with a great shot and put us up there. We were confident we were going to win."

Kyle Chipchura scored into a wide-open right side at 11:01, giving the Canadiens their third two-goal margin of the game. Ryder, who put Montreal up 3-1 in the second, beat Ramo for his sixth of the season at 17:22.

"We knew that we had to come out in the third and push and if we did that we had a good chance of winning, and that's what we did," Ryder said.

A 30-goal scorer each of the last two seasons, Ryder ended a 14-game goal drought Friday in a 5-1 win at Florida. He was a healthy scratch five times during that span.

"I always knew I could put it in but sometimes I wasn't getting the bounce," Ryder said. "The whole time was just tough, especially when the team was struggling."

Alexei Kovalev and Higgins scored power-play goals in the first for Montreal, which returned from a 3-1-2 road trip and won for just the second time in its last nine games at the Bell Centre. Cristobal Huet finished with 30 saves.

Tampa Bay matched a season high with its third six-game winless streak of the season (0-5-1).

Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal scored second-period goals as the Lightning came back to tie it at 3 after trailing 2-0 and 3-1.

"I really liked some of the fight in our team tonight in battling back, but we just haven't been able to finish the game," coach John Tortorella said. "So we're going to continue coaching, we're going to continue trying to stay together and try to find some positives and try to force things to come our way."

Ramo started for the sixth time in seven games and stopped 24 shots.

Tampa Bay's road record fell to 3-14-2, worst in the NHL. Montreal improved to 7-7-4 at home.

Lecavalier scored his team-leading 27th goal 49 seconds into the second to draw Tampa Bay to 2-1. Ryder restored Montreal's two-goal margin at 9:10 before Prospal set up St. Louis' power-play goal at 12:04 to cut the lead to one again.

Prospal tied it 2:02 later when he put a rebound of Lecavalier's shot off the end boards past Huet for his 18th goal at 14:06.

"Maybe in the second we tried to throw too many pucks to the middle, and that's where they're good," Ryder said. "They turned on those chances and scored goals and that's what they burned us on. We've just got to make sure we stay within that and we did that in the third, we didn't throw any pucks in the middle. We kept it more on the outside and it worked."

Game notes
The Lightning also went 0-5-1 from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5, and again from Nov. 19-29. ... Tampa Bay has not won on the road in regulation since a 5-2 victory in Washington on Nov. 10. ... Ryder, who had 25 goals as a rookie in 2003-04, scored a hat trick in the final regular-season game last season, a 6-5 loss in Toronto on April 7.