Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Steven Stamkos scored twice to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Tampa Bay matched Montreal with 93 points and pulled even atop the Atlantic Division. The Canadiens have a game in hand on the Lightning.
Ben Bishop made 32 saves, and Valtteri Filppula and Victor Hedman also scored as the Lightning beat the Canadiens for the fourth time this season.
Carey Price made 30 saves in Montreal's third loss in its last four games. Tomas Plekanec tallied a goal and an assist, and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau also lit the lamp for the Canadiens.
Tampa Bay cashed in on its first power play past the midpoint of the first period. Andrei Markov slid to block Filppula's shot from the slot, but he inadvertently deflected the puck through Price's pads.
"Right out of the gate we started strong," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "We've done it all year."
Stamkos extended Tampa Bay's lead late in the first period. Max Pacioretty dropped the puck into his defensive zone, but instead of connecting with a teammate, Stamkos took the loose puck and fired a shot into the back of the net.
"I gave them the goal," Pacioretty admitted.
It was a 3-0 game just a few minutes into the second period. Joining the rush, Hedman flew through the neutral zone, split the defensemen and wristed a shot past Price.
Montreal used a power play later in the second period to get on the board. Plekanec tried sliding a pass along the goal line to Alex Galchenyuk at the side of the net, but the puck bounced off Bishop and into the net.
Not long after the second intermission expired, Parenteau got the Canadiens within one. Bishop turned the puck over behind the net, and Plekanec set up Parenteau in the slot before Bishop could get back into his crease.
The Canadiens nearly tied the game on the power play with five minutes left when Matt Carle cleared a puck that beat Bishop even though he lost a blade from his skate earlier on the kill when blocking a shot.
With a minute left and short-handed, Montreal had to take a chance and pull Price for the extra attacker. It did not pay off, and Stamkos scored an empty- net goal to put the game away.
Tampa Bay is 30-0-2 when leading after two periods ... Hedman has six points n the season series ... Tampa Bay's Mike Angelidis and Montreal's Brandon Prust fought each other twice ... Stamkos had three points.