MONTREAL (AP) — A red-hot Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 on Tuesday night.

Matt Tomkins made 22 saves in his third career start to earn his first NHL win.

Nicholas Paul scored twice, and Alex Barre-Boulet and Michael Eyssimont also had goals for Tampa Bay (6-3-4), which gave up a three-goal lead in a 6-5 overtime loss in Toronto on Monday.

Captain Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak and Michael Pezzetta scored for Montreal (5-5-2). Jake Allen allowed four goals on nine shots before getting the hook 13 minutes, 50 seconds into the game. Sam Montembeault made 22 saves.

The Canadiens lost their fourth game in a row, and the third in regulation.

Before some fans could take their seats, Kucherov opened the scoring with an effortless wrist shot over Allen’s right shoulder 22 seconds into the game for his 10th goal of the season.

Kucherov, a Hart Trophy winner as league MVP in 2019, entered the game one point back of the league lead and is up to 11 points in his past three games.

With the Canadiens on the power play minutes later, sharpshooter Cole Caufield hit the post from the left circle in what turned out to be Montreal’s best chance at a goal through two periods.

Paul snuck in behind Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson and tapped home a juicy rebound off a Steven Stamkos shot to make it 2-0 at 7:15 of the first.

Barre-Boulet scored 1:54 later after Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky took a holding penalty, finishing off a tic-tac-toe sequence on the power play in front of family and friends in the Bell Centre crowd.

A night after giving up their three-goal lead, the Lightning made sure to stretch it to four.

Eyssimont added to Tampa’s advantage with a short-side shot that trickled through to make it 4-0 with 6:10 left in the first — and that was it for Allen.

The Canadiens settled things down in the second with Montembeault manning the crease.

But Suzuki broke through at 6:50 of the period with a one-timer off a centering feed from Caufield to get Montreal on the board with a power-play goal.

Pezzetta made it 4-2 just 34 seconds later by jamming the puck under Tomkins’ pad to bring the home crowd to life.

Montreal built off that momentum for most of the period, but couldn’t break through with a third.

Paul then scored his second of the night with just over two minutes left to put the game out of reach.

Dvorak got one back with 19 seconds left.


Lightning: Host Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Canadiens: Visit Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.