TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) — The Montreal Canadiens try to cool off Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin St. Louis on Sunday when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Two of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Khabibulin recorded his league-leading fourth playoff shutout in the series opener, lowering his goals-against average to 0.66 and improving his save percentage to .975. He was hardly tested as Montreal took only 21 shots.
St. Louis, a finalist for the Hart Trophy, collected three assists and help jump-start linemate Vincent Lecavalier, who had two goals and an assist for his first three points of the playoffs.
Canadiens coach Claude Julien called Game One “deja vu,” likening it to his team’s 3-0 setback at Boston in Game One of the conference quarterfinals.
Montreal – RW Alexei Kovalev has five goals and three assists in his last seven games; C Saku Koivu has two goals and seven assists in Montreal’s four playoff wins; RW Richard Zednik has points in four of his last six games.
Tampa Bay – RW Martin St. Louis four goals and four assists in his last four games; G Nikolai Khabibulin leads the NHL with four shutouts, a 0.66 goals-against average and .975 save percentage; LW Ruslan Fedotenko has scored a goal in three straight games.
Montreal – LW Joe Juneau is mired in a 17-game playoff scoring drought; RW Michael Ryder has two assists in eight playoff games; C Jim Dowd has gone 23 games since his last postseason goal
Tampa Bay – LW Dave Andreychuk has not registered a point in six playoff games; D Pavel Kubina has not scored a goal in 17 career playoff games.
STREAKS: Tampa Bay is 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Montreal.
HISTORY: Tampa Bay and Montreal are meeting in the playoffs for the first time.
LEADERS: Montreal – Kovalev, five goals; Koivu, eight assists; Koivu, 10 points.
Tampa Bay – St. Louis, four goals; LW Fredrik Modin, five assists; St. Louis, Modin, eight points.
INJURIES: Montreal – Steve Begin (knee); Niklas Sundstrom (ankle); Stephane Quintal (upper body); Jason Ward (ankle).
Tampa Bay – Jassen Cullimore (wrist).