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Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty (67) scores on Tampa Bay Lightning's goalie Mathieu Garon during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal January 7, 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Mike Blunden and Max Pacioretty scored 1:33 apart in the second period as the Montreal Canadiens pulled out a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in a battle of struggling NHL clubs Saturday night.

Eric Cole added a power play goal in the final minute for the Canadiens (16-18-7), who evened their home record to 7-7-6 and posted a second win in a row for only the fourth time this season.

After losses in Toronto and Ottawa, the Lightning (17-20-3) were swept on a three-game road trip and are 6-15-3 away from home for the season.

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Vincent Lecavalier scored for Tampa Bay, who are 0-4-1 in its last five on the road.

Montreal outshot the Bolts 29-24.

A first period with few creative moments saw Tampa Bay take the lead on a strange goal. Dominic Moore was near the goal line as he threw the puck toward the net and Lecavalier tipped in inside the near post 3:24 into the game.

Montreal moved two points clear of the Bolts for 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Canadiens took the lead with two second period goals as Blunden took a pass at the edge of the crease and beat Mathieu Garon with a backhand at 7:17 and P.K. Subban hit Pacioretty behind the Tampa Bay defence with a long pass and he snapped in his 12th of the season.

It was Blunden's first goal as a Canadien and the third of his career. Pacioretty ended a 10-game goal-less drought.

A group of about 200 pro-French protestors staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Bell Centre before the game. They were upset that Randy Cunneyworth was named as the team's first non-french-speaking head coach in four decades.

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The Lightning return home to face the Vancouver Canucks, while Montreal stays home to face their former goalie Jaroslav Halak and the St. Louis Blues, both on Tuesday.

A pre-game ceremonial faceoff was performed by three stars of the 1972 Summit Series: Yvan Cournoyer, Paul Henderson and Vladislav Tretiak. Henderson wore the No. 19 jersey he had on when he scored the series-clinching goal. All three got big ovations.

Notes: Petteri Nokolainen was made a healthy scratch for the first time since he was acquired. Yannick Weber also sat out, but Alexei Emelin, hit in the face by a puck on Friday, played in a face cage. . .Ryan Malone returned from injury for Tampa Bay, Brett Connolly was back from the world junior championship and call-up Pierre-Cedric Labrie made his NHL debut. . .D Brendan Mikkelson, acquired Friday from Calgary, was scatched.

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