MONTREAL (AP) — It was only a matter of time before Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos returned to his goal-scoring ways.
Stamkos scored twice to lead the Lightning to a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
The Lightning’s captain had been held scoreless in six games this season and had scored just two goals.
“Any time you score and help your team win, it’s great,” Stamkos said after his first multi-goal game of the season. “Obviously tonight was a big bounce-back game for our team, for our line.
“Any time you can produce in a win, in an atmosphere like this, it’s icing on the cake.”
J.T. Miller and Yanni Gourde also scored for the Lightning, winners of nine of 13 games this season. Anton Stralman had three assists.
Andrei Vasilevskiy continued his dominant start in the nets, finishing with 34 saves in his seventh victory.
Max Domi scored the only goal for the Canadiens. Carey Price made 32 saves in the loss.
The Lightning improved to 6-0-0 against Eastern Conference opponents this season.
The Canadiens jumped to an early lead when Domi scored on the game’s first shot just 58 seconds in.
Domi intercepted a clearing attempt by former Canadiens draft pick Mikhail Sergachev at the blue line, sidestepped a check by Adam Erne and then fired a wrist shot past Vasilevskiy for his seventh goal of the season.
“He’s one of the best goalies in the league, but you need to create traffic to get one by him,” said Domi, who has points in eight of his last nine games. “We didn’t do enough of that tonight. He played his game, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t score on him when he’s playing his game. We have to do a better job of going to dirty areas.
“We didn’t do that tonight.”
It was the third time this season Domi scored in the first two minutes of a game.
After intense pressure by the Canadiens at the start, a boarding penalty by Nicolas Deslauriers changed the game’s momentum.
The Lightning scored as Deslauriers’s penalty expired. Stamkos beat Price with a one-timer at 13:42 of the first.
Miller made it 2-1 at 16:24 after a midair interception by Stralman gave Tampa Bay the puck in Montreal’s zone.
Following a scoreless second period, Stamkos added to Tampa’s lead 52 seconds into the third with a precise wrist shot into the top of the net. It was his first multi-goal game of the season.
“I’m trying to get back that shooting mentality,” Stamkos said. “Obviously, when you get one early in the game, you’re feeling more confident. Funny how that happens. I got the puck in the slot and knew where I wanted to go.
“That one felt good. I hadn’t shot a puck like that and felt that release in a while.”
The Lightning are 3-0-0 this season when Stamkos scores.
“He’s a natural goal scorer,” said 21-year-old Lightning winger Mathieu Joseph. “You see it every time. What a shot he has. He’s dangerous every time he takes a shot.”
Just one day after signing a six-year contract with the Lightning, Gourde added an insurance goal with 4:03 remaining as he swatted a loose puck in the crease across the goal line.
Montreal finished 0-for-4 with the man advantage. Montreal has not scored a power-play goal in its last 15 opportunities.
The Lightning have won five of their last six games against the Canadiens.
NOTES: Montreal’s Phillip Danault played his 200th NHL game. . Canadiens forward Paul Byron (lower-body injury) did not play. He’s expected to miss at least two more games. . Montreal defenseman Karl Alzner was a healthy scratch for the ninth time this season.
Lightning: At Ottawa on Sunday night.
Canadiens: Against the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Monday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports