The Bolts and Habs complete the four-game season series Wednesday night. Tampa Bay has taken two of the first three meetings, with each of those wins coming by just one goal in its home arena. Montreal scored its lone victory of the season set in the most recent matchup back on Jan. 7 at the Bell Centre.
The Big Story:
Tampa Bay kicks off its final road trip of the season looking to build off consecutive home victories against Winnipeg and Washington, respectively. With two goals Monday night against the Capitals, Steven Stamkos
continues his pursuit of 60 goals and is bidding to become the NHL’s first 60-goal man in a season since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08. For Montreal, however, the season perhaps can’t end soon enough. The Canadiens fired General Manager Pierre Gauthier last week and remain last in the Eastern Conference. They have just one win in their past eight games.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay opens up a three-game road trip Wednesday that will carry through until Saturday when the Lightning conclude the 2011-12 regular campaign. The Bolts have won two straight games and look to finish the season strong coming off a 4-2 win against the division-rival Capitals on Monday night. Steven Stamkos
scored twice in the home finale to up his league-best goal total to 58, while Teddy Purcell
and Victor Hedman
also had goals to buttress a 31-save performance from Dwayne Roloson
. The win was the club’s 25th at home, tying a single-season franchise record, but in order to end the season on a high note, it will have to win on the road where it posts a record of 12-21-5.
CANADIENS – Montreal hosts the Lightning before traveling to Carolina for a brief one-game stint and then wrapping up the regular season with its final home game on Saturday. After qualifying for the postseason last spring, things perhaps could not be more different for the Canadiens this time around. The Habs sit in last place in the East and have just one win in their past eight games amidst a transition of personnel sweeping through their front office. The most recent defeat came Saturday when the Canadiens fought back from a two-goal deficit in the second period before falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Capitals. Erik Cole and Tomas Plekanec each scored and Peter Budaj made 31 saves as Montreal lost its fourth consecutive game.
Lightning forward Steven Stamkos
is riding a six-game point streak with eight goals and three assists in that span, while Ryan Malone
has five goals in his past three games. For Montreal, Tomas Plekanec has points in consecutive games and in three of his past four. Max Pacioretty and Frederic St. Denis also have points in two of the past three outings for the Habs.
LIGHTNING - Mattias Ohlund
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Marc-Andre Bergeron
(upper body, out for season), Mathieu Garon
(torn groin muscle, out 3-4 weeks), Adam Hall
(upper body, day-to-day) and Ryan Shannon
(upper body, out for season).
CANADIENS – Travis Moen (upper body), Brian Gionta (biceps surgery), Raphael Diaz (lower body), Yannick Weber (lower body), Mathieu Darche (lower body), Tomas Kaberle (upper body) and Scott Gomez (concussion).
“The way it’s going right now is the way I want to keep it going. Not a lot of thinking, just going to the right places and getting some bounces.” – Steven Stamkos
, on how he is approaching the thought of reaching the 60-goal mark
suited up for the Canadiens during the 2009-10 season, while several members of the Lightning coaching staff including Guy Boucher, Dan Lacroix and Martin Raymond served in the same capacity for Montreal’s top AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, prior to coming to Tampa Bay last season. Bolts forward JT Wyman
played three career NHL games as a Canadien in 2009-10 and was a member of the Boucher-coached Bulldogs in Hamilton. Tom Pyatt
also skated in 101 career games with Montreal, including an NHL career-high 61 last season. Canadiens forward Mathieu Darche appeared in 73 games with the Lightning during the 2007-08 season.