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Canadiens vs Lightning: Game One — Preview, start time, and TV schedule

The Tampa Bay Lightning pummelled the Montreal Canadiens in every conceivable way during the five-game regular season series. None of that will matter when the teams begin a new best-of-seven series tonight.

Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, including Steven Stamkos #91 scuffle with members of the Montreal Canadiens, including P.K. Subban #76 in Game One of the First Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, including Steven Stamkos #91 scuffle with members of the Montreal Canadiens, including P.K. Subban #76 in Game One of the First Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Mike Carlson/Getty Images

As the calendar flips to the month of May, the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning are among the select few teams still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.

Both teams emerged from long series to open up their quest for the NHL championship. Tampa Bay had a close fight with the Detroit Red Wings, never leading the way before edging ahead with one final thrust at the end.  Montreal shot out of the gate to a commanding lead versus the Ottawa Senators, but needed Carey Price to row like a madman to get the team across the finish line.

The teams line up for a new race tonight, as the top two teams in the Atlantic begin the real battle for the division crown.

How to Watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the United States: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter Live

The Canadiens won the preliminary stage of that battle, claiming the top seed in the division during the regular season.  That victory gained them the right to start and finish this seven-game series at the Bell Centre, and as you can see from the table below, they may need all the advantages they can get to advance to the next round.

Season Series (viewer discretion advised)

Canadiens Statistic Lightning
0-4-1
Record 5-0-0
44.5% (190)
5v5 Shot attempts for % (total attempts)
55.5% (237)
5
5v5 Goals For 10
10
5v5 Goals Against 5
0.5
5v5 Goal Ratio 2.0
13.3% (2/15)
PP% 29.2% (7/24)
70.8%
PK% 86.7%

Keys to the Game

Home ice advantage didn't appear to play much of a part in the season series between the teams, as Montreal got just one point out of the three games in which it hosted Tampa Bay, and that requiring Carey Price to hold the Bolts scoreless until the overtime period.  On the whole, however, Tampa Bay was a very poor road team this year, going 18-16-7 playing away from Amalie Arena.  If the Canadiens had managed to go a realistic 2-1 in their three home games versus the Lightning, Tampa Bay could very easily have put up a losing record on the road.

If the Canadiens are going to win tonight, they will need to get better production from their top forwards.  Brian Flynn and Dale Weise were responsible for two of the three wins that Carey Price didn't steal in the Ottawa series, and those performances are unlikely to be repeated in this round.  Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, and Alex Galchenyuk will need to step up their games from their first round efforts that saw them each contribute just one goal (not counting Pacioretty's empty-netter with 0.3 seconds left in Game Six).

While Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher also had their difficulties in getting the puck in the back of the net, they were very good in the first round at keeping the puck in the opposition's end.  Sustaining that possession play will be crucial in tonight's game and throughout the series, as Tampa Bay has too many talented offensive players to be left to roam around the offensive zone.

Tyler Johnson was one of the best five-on-five point-producers during the regular season, and he followed that up with five even-stength goals in Tampa Bay's first round win over Detroit.  He will have to be a main focus of P.K. Subban and the Canadiens' defence tonight, although they shouldn't forget about the ice-cold Steven Stamkos, either.

As daunting as the task of overcoming the Tampa Bay Lightning may appear, it's important to note that Montreal's regular season success against the Ottawa Senators was similarly underwhelming to what the Canadiens achieved against their current opponent.  Montreal has shown the ability to elevate its play in its last two visits to the Stanley Cup playoffs.  A closely-contested match should be expected not only tonight, but for the duration of this two-week best-of-seven series.