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Tampa blows by Montreal

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TAMPA, Fla. — Vincent Lecavalier broke out of his playoff scoring slump in his first postseason game against the team he grew up idolizing.

Lecavalier had two goals and an assist Friday night to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 4-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Nikolai Khabibulin looked unbeatable again, stopping 21 shots to post his fourth shutout of the playoffs.

Lecavalier, a native of Montreal who celebrated his 24th birthday this week, didn't have a goal in 12 playoff games, dating to Game 4 of Tampa Bay's first-round victory over Washington last year.

He hadn't had an assist in seven games, although the drought hardly slowed down the top-seeded Lightning in their quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders — not with Khabibulin on top of his game.

NHL scoring champion Martin St. Louis, who grew up in the Montreal suburb of Laval, Quebec, had assists on the Lightning's first three goals.

The seventh-seeded Canadiens entered the series coming off an emotional Game 7 road victory over second-seeded Boston. But with a week off after eliminating the Islanders from the first round in five games, Tampa Bay was the fresher team — and Khabibulin was much sharper in goal than Montreal's Jose Theodore.

Theodore gave up Tampa Bay's first goal to Ruslan Fedotenko when the netminder was caught out of position after bending down to pick up his stick early in the second period. Lecavalier scored on a deflection late in the period, then made it 3-0 when he sent a shot between Theodore's legs just under 4 minutes into the third.

When Dimitry Afanasenkov scored, making it 4-0, Montreal coach Claude Julien yanked Theodore less than a minute later, allowing backup Mathieu Garon to finish that last 11:54.