The Canadiens head into Tampa Bay hoping to clinch the season series win tonight against the 7th place Lightning. Tampa Bay currently holds a four-point lead on the Canadiens and has also played one more game. While Montreal has returned from their break reeling off two consecutive wins, Tampa seems to have awoken on the other side of the bed. The Bolts returned from their Olympic break to play the Florida Panthers and it was an ugly affair. The Bolts were routed 8-2 in front of their home fans beneath their 2004 Stanley Cup banner. The Canadiens should be a wary bunch heading into tonight’s game because Tampa no doubt will be seeking redemption after such a pitiful return from their 17-day mid season lay off. Both Tampa goalies allowed four goals on less then fifteen shots and were without a doubt reamed out by Head Coach John Tortorella who has a history of getting in his underachieving goaltenders faces.
The first two meetings this year between the Canadiens and Lightning fell in the Canadiens favour and both were decided by a single goal, which has become something of a trend in most Canadiens wins this season. One of the major reasons for Tampa Bay’s struggles this year has been their inability to produce any offence from their power play, currently holding down the 27th spot in power play efficiency. The Canadiens have not allowed a Tampa power play goal this year successfully killing off all of their thirteen attempts. Montreal’s power play on the other hand is middle of the pack, resting in the fifteen spot but have had great success against Tampa Scoring two each game on thirteen combined opportunities.
Cristobal Huet will start between the pipes for the Canadiens tonight looking to improve his 8-5-3 record and his 2.27 GAA. Facing him at the other end of the rink will most likely be John Grahame who has won three of his last five games only surrendering thirteen goals in that time frame.
1. Alex Kovalev has 2 assists in both Canadiens victories against Tampa this season.
2. Cristobal will for the third straight game play a team he has never played in his brief NHL career.
3. Richard Zednik has scored 2 of his 12 goals against Tampa this season but has been held scoreless in his past seven contests.
4. In the first ten games the Canadiens have had Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau as coaches the Habs blocked 122 shots, in the last seven under their tutelage they have blocked 142.