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Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-3-3); Montreal (6-4-0)
Season Series: This is the first of four meetings between the two clubs this season. After tonight, the Canadiens will travel to the St. Pete Times Forum for a pair of games on Dec. 30 and Jan. 27, and the Lightning will journey north to the Bell Centre on Mar. 9. The Bolts were unbeaten in regulation against the Habs last season, posting a 2-0-2 record, splitting wins at home and on the road.
The Big Story: Both clubs’ special teams could play a big role in tonight’s game. Montreal comes in toward the bottom of the NHL on the power play, ranking 26th out of 30 teams. The Lightning however, in their last game on Thursday at Ottawa, scored twice with a man advantage, including one from Steven Stamkos whose power play goal tied him for first in the league with six. Defensively, the Canadiens stand 24th in penalty killing, while Tampa Bay seeks to continue recent success with its own unit, who has killed 11 of 14 penalties in its last two games.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay has picked up three points so far on the current four-game road trip, but has not yet won in regulation since departing the St. Pete Times Forum on November 1. Forward Ryan Craig returned to NHL action for his first game this season after being recalled from Norfolk of the AHL, and should add some depth up front, as well as contribute offensively.
CANADIENS – Montreal’s five-game home winning streak ended on Tuesday against Atlanta, thanks in part to numerous injuries, primarily on defense. Hal Gill was added to the list of banged up players on October 31, joining D Andrei Markov, D Ryan O’Byrne, and RW Matt D’Agostini.
Who’s Hot: - Steven Stamkos has netted nine goals in his last eight games, including a league-best six on the power play.
- For Montreal, both Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec have each tallied three points in their last three games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Victor Hedman (day-to-day); CANADIENS – Hal Gill (lower body), Andrei Markov (ankle), Ryan O’Byrne (knee), Matt D’Agostini (concussion).
Quotable: “It’s [hockey] is a gritty game. We need some more grittiness from our wingers. But for the most part, our guys have been working hard.” – Rick Tocchet
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