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Lightning (21-11-5, 47 Points) vs. Canadiens (20-15-2, 42 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (6-2-2); Montreal (3-7-0)
Season Series: Tonight’s game at the St. Pete Times Forum is the second of four meetings between the Bolts and Habs. Tampa Bay took the first matchup in Quebec in its second game of the season, winning a thriller, 4-3, in overtime on a goal by Ryan Malone that came after Steven Stamkos tied the contest with 1:19 remaining in regulation.
The Big Story: Both teams are coming off losses that set each club back into second place in their respective divisions after holding the top spot prior to Tuesday’s games. Tampa Bay looks to rejoin Washington, idle tonight, atop the Southeast Division with 49 points, while Montreal looks to gain ground on first-place Boston after losing four of the last five. It will be a tough test, as the Lightning have points in eight of their last nine and just have one regulation loss since Dec. 7.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay hosts Montreal in the second game of the team’s three-game home stand. The Lightning currently sit two points out of first in the Southeast Division following a tough and controversial loss Tuesday night at the hands of the Boston Bruins. Mark Recchi scored the game-winning goal on the power play with 19.7 seconds left after Steven Stamkos was called for boarding on Gregory Campbell. Stamkos, along with his teammates, were disappointed at the outcome, but along with Head Coach Guy Boucher, were pleased with their efforts and acknowledged the accomplishment of a hard-fought game in which the entire team battled by overcoming three one-goal deficits.
CANADIENS – Montreal plays in the second-to-last contest of the team’s four-game road trip, which wraps up Friday in Sunrise against the Panthers. The Habs play the first half of a back-to-back set tonight against the Lightning, but come in with losses in four of the last five and six of the last seven on the road. Its last game in which it was blanked 3-0 by Washington was indicative of Montreal’s recent scoring troubles. The Canadiens have totaled just a single goal in its last two games, while surrendering seven goals to its opponents, including four to the lowly Islanders on Sunday.
Who’s Hot: Vincent Lecavalier has goals in three straight games since the first month of 2009, and Steven Stamkos also has goals in three consecutive contests. Martin St. Louis has two goals and five points in his last three for Tampa Bay. The Canadiens’ Mike Cammalleri comes in with 12 points in his last 13 games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Steve Downie (ankle sprain, out 1 week, placed on Injured Reserve), Mike Smith (minor knee injury, out 2 weeks, placed on Injured Reserve) and Randy Jones (upper body, day-to-day). CANADIENS – Travis Moen (flu) and Andrei Markov (knee).
Notable Quotable: “Those games mean a lot because they’re top teams, fighting for first place. For us, it’s a good measuring stick right now, and we want to make sure that we measure ourselves with the best of our abilities and see where we are.” – Head Coach Guy Boucher, on the team’s tough upcoming schedule
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