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GAME: Montreal Canadiens (13-13-3-1) at Tampa Bay Lightning (13-8-4-1).TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are being swallowed up by their brutal schedule.
The Lightning will play their seventh game in the last 13 days when they take on the visiting Montreal Canadiens.
Tampa Bay, which has lost two straight, including a 3-2 defeat to Ottawa on Thursday, has won just two of its last 10 games (2-6-2) to fall from first place in the Southeast Division to five points back of Atlanta.
After playing just seven games in October, the Lightning were well-rested for November and it showed as they finished the month with an 11-4-4-1 overall record. However, after having five days off from Nov. 15-19, the Lightning finished the month with six games in 10 days, going 2-2-2.
Things have gotten worse in December as Tampa Bay has gone 2-4. The Lightning won't have more than two days off in a row until the All-Star break in early February.
To make matters worse, one of the Lightning's key offensive players is going through a dreadful slump. Brad Richards has just one goal in his last 20 games.
"It's different when you're not scoring and you don't get some chances, like I was for a while," Richards said. "But when you get four or five in one period -- I may not get a chance like that again for another week, that's tough to take."
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 37 shots.
The Canadiens are coming off a 4-2 loss to Florida on Friday, just their second defeat in their last eight games (4-2-2). Richard Zednik and Saku Koivu scored first-period goals, and Jose Theodore made 45 saves.
Montreal, which beat the New York Rangers on Wednesday, has not won consecutive games since its sixth and seventh games of the season.
"If we want to move up in the standings, we're going to have to start winning consecutive games," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said.
"It's not only disappointing, it's unacceptable."
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