Game Thread: Gionta Returns as Habs Host Lightning

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The Montreal Canadiens will hope the magic of Wednesday's home thumping of the Winnipeg Jets carries on tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite a disappointing loss in Florida, December 29, home ice should play a big key for the Habs tonight. The Lightning have lost 14 of 23 road games, their most recent was a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Special teams have not been great, on the road, for the Bolt. Tampa is 1 for 33, with the man advantage, in their last nine road games and a league worst 8.2 percent this season.

Tampa is also gaining a long list in the injury department. Adam Hall and J.T. Wyman both suffered upper body injuries on Thursday. Wyman is listed as day-to-day, while Hall is indefinite. They join Mathias Ohlund, Ryan Shannon, Ryan Malone and Victor Hedman on the Lightning's list of casualties.

The Lightning, looking to reinforce their blueline corps, picked up Brendan Mikkelson from the Calgary Flames, on Friday. He could play tonight, if Malone is not set to return.

Brett Connolly, fresh off a Bronze Medal for the Team Canada Juniors, is expected to join the Lightning roster tonight. Call-up Pierre-Cedric Labrie makes his NHL debut.

Mathieu Garon gets the start in goal tonight.

Good news for the Canadiens is the return of captain Brian Gionta to the lineup, and practiced with Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec.

Alexei Emelin took a Yannick Weber shot to the face, during Friday's practice, but appears good to go tonight, The Russina tank was sporting a full cage during the morning skate.

Good deal?: Tomas Kaberle has a goal and eight assists in 11 games with Montreal. He had the same point total (no goals) in 29 games with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Need something to do Sunday aft? Bring your cash and your Habs items, as Carey Price, P.K., Subban , Josh Gorges, and Travis Moen will be doing an autograph signing at AL Creations.

MONTREAL CANADIENS PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole

Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Andrei Kostitsyn - Lars Eller - Travis Moen

Mathieu Darche - Petteri Nokelainen - Mike Blunden

Defense Pairnings

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz

Hal Gill - Tomas Kaberle

Goalies

Carey Price - Peter Budaj

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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis

Dominic Moore - Vincent Lecavalier - Brett Connolly

Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson - Teddy Purcell

Brendan Mikkelson - Pierre-Cedric Labrie -Dana Tyrell


Defense Pairings

Lightning vs Canadiens coverage

Lightning SBN coverage from Raw Charge

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