Canadiens captain Saku Koivu who is currently riding a five game point streak leads his team into St. Petersburg tonight to play the red hot Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa had a rough start to begin the year losing four of their first six games, but have won three in a row and have picked up points in their last five. Much of the Bolts recent success can be attributed to Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier who have scored 11 and 10 points respectfully during the Lightning’s five game unbeaten streak.
Marc Denis will get the start in goal for Tampa. Denis has lost his last 4 starts. In those four games his goals against average was a pitiful 5.39, his save percentage was none better at .849. Cristobal Huet will be in goal for the Canadiens, Huet won three of his last four starts and has allowed more than 2 goals only once in those games.
Although the Canadiens have a higher ranked power play then Tampa Bay, recently it has been a different story. The Lightning have scored 9 power play goals in their previous 4 games while the Canadiens have just 4 in their last 7 games. The Penalty Kill which has been bread and butter for the Canadiens is ranked 6th in the NHL while the Bolts are only better than the lowly Bruins ranking 29th overall in that area.
Mathieu Dandenault may return to action earlier than expected as he has been cleared to play. Coach Guy Carbonneau said that he would surely play either Thursday or Saturday but after yesterdays workout he was cleared by the medical staff as ready to play. It will be interesting to see if he is dressed which if any Canadiens defenseman he would replace. Mark Streit has looked pretty solid in a limited role while Janne Niinimaa has struggled playing his wrong side but did look good at the beginning of the season with Dandenault as his partner.
1. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier combined for 5 points in their first 6 games of the season, since then they have scored 38 points in the past 11 games. St. Louis and Lecavalier are also both on 11 game point streaks.
2. Mike Komisarek is just 1 short handed goal away from matching a Canadiens record of 3 in a season by a defenseman. The record is currently held by Serge Savard and Jim Roberts.
3. Last season the Canadiens won the season series 3-1, outscoring Tampa 14-9.