Season Series: It's the second of three meetings between the clubs. The two teams last met on February 12, when the Lightning scored three third-period goals to force overtime before eventually losing to Montreal 4-3 in the shootout. The Lightning and Canadiens will wrap up the season set in the finale on April 18 at the Bell Centre.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay looks to rebound from Thursday's closely-contested 2-1 loss to the division-rival Jets and inch closer to both Winnipeg and Carolina in the Southeast Division standings, while Montreal seeks to cushion its lead in the Northeast Division over second-place Boston, who entered Friday just a single point behind the Habs in the standings. The Canadiens have won three of their past five.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays host to the Canadiens in the final home game before jaunting down to Sunrise on Tuesday night for a one-game road stint against the Panthers. The Bolts will then return to the Tampa Bay Times Forum following that contest to play three straight in front of the home crowd. The Bolts nearly completed another come-from-behind effort on Thursday, as Steven Stamkos' league-leading 18th goal of the season in the third period pulled Tampa Bay even with Winnipeg at 1-1. But Bryan Little's tally with just over four minutes to go in regulation beat Anders Lindback through the five hole, allowing the Jets to jump the Bolts in the standings, while handing the Lightning their third loss in the month of March.
CANADIENS – Montreal skates in its fourth contest on a five-game road trip, which wraps up Sunday in South Florida against the Panthers in the second half of a back-to-back set. The Habs have been inconsistent as of late, alternating wins and losses in each of their past seven games. Fortunately for the team, it hasn't hindered its ability to remain in first place not only in the Northeast Division, but in the entire Eastern Conference. Montreal actually did the Lightning a favor in its most recent game, skating to a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, which stalled the Bolts' division rivals in the Southeast standings, at least for one night. Carey Price made 42 saves to help lead the way for the Habs in a game that featured the line of Lars Eller, Brandon Prust and Alex Galchenyuk lead the way offensively, with both Prust and Eller notching a goal and two assists.
Who's Hot: Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis is riding a four-game assist streak with five helpers in that span and has registered a total of seven points over a five-game point streak. Vincent Lecavalier is also on a four-game point streak against the Canadiens dating back to last season, recording three goals and an assist during that span. For Montreal, defenseman PK Subban is enjoying a five-game point streak with three goals and seven points in that span, while Andrei Markov has recorded two assists in as many games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Benoit Pouliot (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Mathieu Garon (Lower Body, Day-To-Day). CANADIENS – Raphael Diaz (Concussion), Rene Bourque (Concussion) and Petteri Nokelainen (Lower Body).
Connections: Marc-Andre Bergeron, Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt and Mathieu Garon are all former members of the Canadiens, while Lightning head coach Guy Boucher and his staff served behind the bench for Montreal's top minor-league affiliate of the American Hockey League, the Hamilton Bulldogs, during the 2009-10 season. Bolts goaltender Cedrick Desjardins was acquired from Montreal last month on February 14 in exchange for Dustin Tokarski, and earned a victory over the Canadiens while in net for the Lightning during the 2010-11 season in his first stint with the Bolts.
Twitter Stat Pack: Steven Stamkos leads all NHL skaters with 18 goals this season and ranks second with 35 points on the season. Vincent Lecavalier ranks tied for fifth in the NHL with 268 faceoff wins. Steven Stamkos is three goals shy of 200 in his career. The Lightning are 83-39-13 when Steven Stamkos scores a goal since the start of the 2009-10 season.The Lightning have earned at least a point against Montreal at the Times Forum in three straight games (2-0-1). The Lightning have sold out their first 12 home games to begin the 2012-13 season, with Saturday's contest against the Habs expected to be the 13th consecutive sellout.
Notable Quotable: "We're in the business of doing the impossible, and that's what it's going to have to be." – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, speaking on the team's current position in the standings and what it has to do to make a push for the playoffs
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