Saku Koivu will play in his 600th career game tonight, which is quite an accomplishment for a player who has had no luck when it comes to injuries and illness throughout his career, having only played two complete seasons. Koivu is currently leading the Canadiens in points with 29 and is just 11 points shy of 500 for his career. Koivu has had success against the Bolts notching 31 points in just 25 games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning struggled to make the playoffs last season and may miss them entirely this year if things do not change very soon. The Bolts have lost five of their previous six games despite Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis posting ten goals and fourteen assists in those six games.
Goaltending and special teams have been two of the major contributing factors to Tampa’s early season failures. Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis both have goals against averages above 3 and save percentages below .890. Their stats are not good enough in either category for top 30 in the league. Their special teams are even more worrisome as their power play ranks 20th overall and their penalty kill is dead last . The Canadiens on the other hand quite enjoy special teams, as they own both the best penalty kill and power play in the conference.
The Canadiens won the previous meeting this season by a 3-1 count. All three of the Canadiens goals came on the man advantage. Lecavalier and St. Louis were held of the score sheet despite registering over eleven shots combined. Saku Koivu notched his 335 assist that night tying him with Claude Provost for 16th on franchise career list. Koivu has since passed Provost and Dickie Moore and is just four shy of Peter Mahovlich for 14th.
Sheldon Souray (wrist), Steve Begin (ribs) and Chris Higgins are all remain day-to-day and it is uncertain if any of them will see action tonight. Cristobal Huet will be in goal for the Canadiens while Marc Denis will counter for Tampa. Rob DiMaio (concussion) is the only injured Lightning player.
1. Tampa Bay has allowed 4 or more goals 13 times this year, they have only won 2 of those games.
2. Despite great career numbers against Tampa, Koivu has just two assists in his last four match-ups against the Bolts. Alex Kovalev on the other hand is riding a five game point streak against the Lightning.
3. The Canadiens have won all but one of their game when they have six or more powerplays.