Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-5-1); Montreal (4-5-1)
Season Series: Tonight marks the second of four meetings between the two clubs this season, and the first at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Bolts traveled to the Bell Centre on Nov. 7 and picked up two points with a 3-1 victory that wrapped up a four-game road trip. Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Malone and Alex Tanguay led all skaters with two points in the contest while Antero Niittymaki stopped 36 of 37 shots. The two teams meet again Jan. 27 at Tampa Bay and Mar. 9 at Montreal.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay has won four out of five, including its last two in a row at home, and are just one point out of a playoff spot. The Bolts have picked up points in five out of their last seven games against a Northeast Division opponent, good for nine points out of a possible 14 and a 4-2-1 record. In their last three games at home against a Northeast Division team, the Lightning have outscored their opponent 10-7. Mike Smith is 2-0-0 in two games played out of those contests, posting a .944 save percentage. The Lightning have also picked up points in their last six matchups against the Canadiens, going 4-0-2.
LIGHTNING – The Bolts are coming off two consecutive wins and hope to extend the mark to three, which would be the team’s longest winning streak of the season. Tonight is the second-to-last match of a five-game home stand, with the club traveling to Buffalo after a contest versus the Penguins at the St. Pete Times Forum on Jan. 2. The Lightning beat Boston 2-1 on Monday behind Smith’s 30 saves and a goal each from Alex Tanguay and Martin St. Louis. Kurtis Foster recorded a season-high two assists while also tying his season-best total in points, also with two. Over the last five games, St. Louis and Foster have tallied a combined total of 11 assists between them. Matt Walker, Jeff Halpern and Todd Fedoruk remain on Injured Reserve with lower body injuries.
CANADIENS – Montreal comes into Tampa Bay on the tail end of a seven-game road trip on which the team won its first four. After tonight’s contest against the Lightning, the team will travel to Sunrise to complete the second half of a back-to-back set before returning home to the Bell Centre. Mike Cammalleri recorded Montreal’s 20, 000th goal in franchise history against Ottawa on Monday, but the Habs fell to the Senators who kept their opponent from reaching a five-game winning streak. It was the first time in five games that Montreal held its opponent to fewer than 40 shots on goal. Brian Gionta returned to action after suffering a broken foot. In his debut after the injury, Gionta recorded six shots on goal, logged 16:34 in ice time and recorded an assist.
Who’s Hot: - Martin St. Louis is riding a five-game consecutive point streak, tallying six assists and two goals, while Kurtis Foster has recorded five helpers in the same number of games. Alex Tanguay has scored a goal in two straight contests and Vincent Lecavalier has four points in half as many games.
- The Canadiens’ Andrei Kostitsyn has totaled six points in as many games, while Scott Gomez has the same number in half as many. Andrei Markov has seven points in his last five and Mike Cammalleri has tallied five points over his last four.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Matt Walker (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve, day-to-day), Jeff Halpern (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve, out two weeks) and Todd Fedoruk (lower body, placed on Injured Reserve, out two weeks). CANADIENS – Roman Hamrlik (knee, day-to-day) and Paul Mara (hand, day-to-day).
Quotable: “Two in a row, that’s a pretty good stretch. We’re fighting for our lives right now to get in the playoffs, so every game is big for us, especially the ones that are in our conference. [The win against Boston] was definitely a building block.” – Lightning goaltender Mike Smith
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