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Canadiens @ Lightning: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

A difficult road trip comes to a close in Tampa.

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ Tampa Bay Lightning

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CityTV, Sportsnet East (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: NHL Network
In the Lightning region: Bally Sports Sun
Streaming: ESPN+, NHL Live, RDS Direct, Sportsnet Now

There was some hope that the Montreal Canadiens could have a better result versus the Carolina Hurricanes under Martin St. Louis, as in the two games they’d played under Dominique Ducharme, they had lost by a combined score of 8-1. The Hurricanes were completely indifferent to the man behind the bench, however, schooling the team on the ice with a complete shutdown effort on Thursday. Rather than St. Louis helping to change the narrative of the season series, he was dealt the first shutout loss of his NHL coaching career.

Montreal had no offence, and that was largely because they couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone, and then struggled to break down the defensive wall Carolina built at its blue line on the rare occasions they did possess the puck. The Hurricanes raced out to 40 shots before the second period came to a close, then simply coasted through the final period to secure their 45th win of the season.

Following a decent performance versus some of the top clubs in the Eastern Conference to end the homestand before this trip, the Canadiens haven’t been able to win in the first three games of the road trip, and you can’t say they’ve deserved to based on their level of play so far. They will need to see a dramatic improvement if they’re going to at least test a strong Tampa Bay Lightning team tonight.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Lightning
Canadiens Statistics Lightning
18-39-11 Record 43-18-6
44.9% (30th) Scoring-chances-for % 52.7% (10th)
2.51 (32nd) Goals per game 3.31 (9th)
3.76 (31st) Goals against per game 2.73 (7th)
13.6% (31st) PP% 21.5% (15th)
74.9% (27th) PK% 81.3% (9th)
0-1-1 H2H Record 2-0-0

With a 5-2 win versus the Chicago Blackhawks last night, the Lightning are now the hottest team in the league with four consecutive victories. They needed some better performances after they had begun to slip down the order, sitting in a wild-card spot following a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on March 24. They’re now ranked as the second seed in the Atlantic Division, which would grant home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff series.

The Canadiens may not have fared well at all versus the Hurricanes this year, but the games against their Stanley Cup Final opponent last year have been much closer. Despite the roster being substantially weaker than it was in that battle for the championship, Montreal fell 3-2 in the first game played in December before taking a point in a 5-4 overtime defeat a few weeks later.

If tonight is going to be that first win, it will start in the defensive zone by ending the Lightning’s possessions and launching counter-attacks. The general philosophy of just taking the nearest man and preventing him from being the one to score may have worked in St. Louis’s first days, but now the lack of structure has become a problem, with no one seeming to understand what they’re supposed to do in front of their goaltender.

The difference in tonight’s game from the previous three on this road trip will be the presence of Jordan Harris in the lineup, making his NHL debut. We shouldn’t expect him to fix the defensive issues, any more than Justin Barron could have been expected to save the power play in his first games. Harris does bring a solid game with him from his collegiate career and some of that should carry over to the top league. Versus one of the top offences in the game, there will probably be a few growing pains, but we’re sure to see some of the potential that earned him his contract in the first place.