Canadiens @ Lightning: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch
Can Montreal extend Tampa Bay’s woes?
Montreal Canadiens @ Tampa Bay Lightning
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Lightning region: SUN
Streaming: NHL.tv/NHL Live
Scoring goals hasn’t been much of an issue for Montreal over the past three weeks. They’ve scored at least three in seven of their last eight games, and matched their season high of six on Tuesday night in Brooklyn. The issue had become playing well enough defensively to prevent teams from scoring more. Even the one game in this span they didn’t score three, they got out to a 2-0 lead against the New York Rangers, and fell 5-2.
A better effort on the defensive side against the Islanders allowed them to lock things down after getting out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. That was helped by the penalty-killing duo of Joel Armia and Paul Byron, who turned a great opportunity for the home team to get back in the game into a short-handed rush, and a more comfortable 4-0 advantage.
Now with a bit more confidence in their 200-foot play, the Habs roll into Tampa Bay to try to replicate the 60-minute effort.
Tale of the Tape
|54.5% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||52.4% (5th)|
|3.01 (17th)||Goals per game||3.47 (2nd)|
|3.06 (16th)||Goals against per game||2.80 (9th)|
|18.5% (21st)||PP%||23.1% (7th)|
|78.6% (19th)||PK%||81.9% (10th)|
The last match between the teams in late December also fit the pattern of the blown multi-goal leads that had plagued the Habs recently. Montreal was up 2-0 and running the Lightning out of their own rink at the 10-minute mark, but the opponent flipped the switch to score four consecutive goals and come away with a 5-4 result. The effort level wasn’t just engaged for that game; what was just a second consecutive win for the Lightning at the time turned into a 10-game winning streak, and they’ve already bettered that run since with a separate streak of 11.
The switch has been toggled to the off position following that latest run, however, and Tampa Bay’s defensive play has been responsible. In the 11 straight wins, the team never allowed more than three goals. Over their past six contests, they’re averaging over four allowed, and have the 1-5-0 record to show it.
Montreal will be attempting to outscore the normally prolific Lightning without their own top scorer in the lineup. Despite comments from Claude Julien that Tomas Tatar’s injury wasn’t likely to be a long-term one, the team has had to dip into what is becoming a shallow pool of AHL depth to replace him, granting Lukas Vejdemo a second NHL stint.
They did manage six goals essentially without Tatar in the lineup, but his possession game will surely be missed against what is the league’s best team from top to bottom when it wants to be. Nevertheless, it should be a high-scoring, entertaining affair given the Lightning’s need to get their game turned around, and Montreal’s desire to just end the season with some positives. There are a few Habs just getting introduced to the matchup versus one of the best teams in hockey, eager to show what they can do versus top competition.