TAMPA — There was more rust than rest for Tampa Bay on Saturday.
But The Lightning picked up a point for the sixth consecutive game and remained in second place in the Atlantic Division ahead of Montreal after dropping a 2-1 shootout to the Canadiens in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Forum.
Lars Eller had the only goal in the shootout to give Montreal the extra point. Tampa Bay fell to 6-2 in shootouts this season.
Marty St. Louis scored for the fourth consecutive game and Ben Bishop stopped 20 shots, allowing two or fewer goals for the sixth consecutive game.
Tomas Plekanec had a goal for Montreal, while Carey Price finished with 23 saves, including 13 in the third period.
After anticipating there would be no rust in the Lightning’s game, save perhaps for the goaltending, coming out of the three-day break, it turned out to be just the opposite for Tampa Bay, particularly in the first period.
Coming off three consecutive dominant performances, the Lightning looked off in the opening period, giving up a breakaway chance and a 2-on-1 break in the opening 10 minutes while taking a pair of penalties, including one for having too many men on the ice early in the first.
Bishop was sharp in the early going, showing that focus with a snatching glove save to stop Plekanec at 9:35 of the period.
At the other end, Price had yet to see any action as Tampa Bay went 11:02 into the game before Nate Thompson put a backhand shot on goal for the first shot for the Lightning.
With the teams combining to allow 38 first-period goals coming into the game, it wasn’t a surprise to see the game scoreless after the first period, with the Canadiens holding a 7-3 shot advantage heading into the first intermission.
Montreal finally broke through to open the scoring, as Plekanec found some wiggle room coming down the slot to get half a step on Killorn before fighting off a hold and flipping a backhand under the arm of Bishop at 5:15 of the second period.
The Canadiens nearly took a two-goal lead three minutes later, but Rene Bourque’s shot caromed off the goal post at 8:14 to keep the Lightning deficit at a goal.
After failing to convert on a power-play chance, Tampa Bay found a way to pull even as St. Louis took a pass from Tyler Johnson and wired home a wrist shot to the inside of the near post at 11:43 to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games and increase his scoring streak to six games.
Though Tampa Bay had just nine shots on goal through 40 minutes, the Lightning started to find their game in the third period.
But Price was strong when Montreal needed him to be, stopping St. Louis all alone in front at 5:51, then coming up with a sliding stop on Nikita Kucherov’s power-play chance before stopping Radko Gudas on a 3-on-2 rush at 11:00.
Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov rung a point shot off the post at 12:14, while Bishop ensured the game would get to overtime by coming up with a save on Max Pacioretty at the top of the crease with 1:27 left in regulation.