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CANADIENS (22-13-3) at LIGHTNING (23-11-3)
Montreal 6-4-0; Tampa Bay 7-1-2
Sun Sports, CBC, RDS; AM 970 WFLA
This is the second of four meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens this season. Tampa Bay won the first matchup at Bell Centre, 2-1, in a shootout against the Habs. It was also their first full game without forward Steven Stamkos, which the Bolts have gone 11-6-3 since losing him.
Coming off a three-game break in the action, the Bolts face-off for the first time since Tuesday. The Canadiens have also not played since Saturday, December 21.
LIGHTNING – With six unanswered goals in Tuesday's game versus the Florida Panthers, the Lightning have now notched five straight wins. Tampa Bay has taken 30-plus shots in four-straight games and have scored a power play goal in three consecutive contests. It is the balance that Tampa Bay has been looking for as they near the midway point of the year.
Despite a brief pause from the ice head coach Jon Cooper believes that each team is in the same boat as far as the rust factor is concerned, saying that the two players that might have the most rust to shake off are goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback. With two straight games at home the Bolts then head on the road for seven of their next eight.
CANADIENS – Not playing since last Saturday the Habs have had the longest break of any team in the NHL as they resume a six-game road trip tonight in Tampa Bay. In their last contest, Montreal swarmed ahead to a three-goal lead, but saw that quickly disappear when the Predators added three unanswered goals of their own. However the Canadiens managed an overtime win at the 1:43 mark of the extra frame to keep the Habs within two points of the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Forwards Valtteri Filppula and Martin St. Louis are both riding five-game point streaks heading into tonight, combining for six goals and nine assists.
12/27 – Recalled D Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Lightning – D Keith Aulie (upper body, out), D Eric Brewer (upper body, day-to-day), D Brian Lee (knee, out), F Ryan Malone (lower body, out), D Sami Salo (day-to-day), F Steven Stamkos (broken right tibia, out); Canadiens – D Josh Gorges (lower body, questionable), F George Parros (concussion, day-to-day), D Davis Drewiske (shoulder, out)
Picking up points in five straight home contests, the #TBLightning also have an impressive record of 14-3-1 at the @TBTimesForum.
The #Bolts @BenBishop30 was just the second goalie in the league to reach the 20-win plateau this season, winning each of his past five starts.
The #TBLightning's Martin St. Louis and Valtteri Filppula enter Saturday's contest on five-game point streaks, combining for 15 points.
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