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Montréal
Canadiens
42-31-9
Tampa Bay
Lightning
43-33-6

22 SOG
29 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
MTL
TBL
game preview

Canadiens-Lightning Preview

Saturday, 03.04.2006 / 7:30 PM

Associated Press

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (28-22-8) at Tampa Bay Lightning (32-23-4).

TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to rebound from one of their worst losses of the season. Unfortunately, they will have to do that against one of the league's hottest goaltenders.

The Lightning will meet Cristobal Huet and the Montreal Canadiens in a matchup of two teams looking for better playoff seeding.

Tampa Bay leads eighth-place Montreal by four points in the Eastern Conference playoff race. A Lightning win would move them past New Jersey and into sixth place.

In their first game following the Olympic break, the Lightning held a 34-22 shots advantage, but allowed seven goals in the first two periods of an 8-2 loss to Florida on Tuesday.

The six-goal margin of defeat matched the Lightning's 8-2 decision against the Devils on Nov. 25. Tampa Bay is still 10-3-1 in its last 14 games.

"It happens," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "We're mature enough to handle to that. Just look to the next game."

Brad Richards extended his point streak to seven games, and has three goals and 10 assists over that span.

Riding the play of Huet, the Canadiens have won consecutive games to start their six-game road trip and are 5-0-2 in their last seven contests overall.

More impressive, Montreal has won three straight on the road and is 5-2-0 in its last seven contests away from home after seven consecutive road defeats.

Huet has started the last seven games and notched three shutouts and a 1.27 goals-against average over that span.

The 30-year-old became the starter when Jose Theodore fractured a heel during the Olympic break and will be out six to eight weeks.

Huet made 24 saves and Alexei Kovalev scored his 15th goal of the season with 5:49 left in the third period of the Canadiens' 1-0 win over Florida on Thursday.

"(Huet) doesn't look like a player who wants to give up his position to anybody," Canadiens coach Bob Gainey said. "You have to earn the confidence of your teammates, and he has done that for a while."

Leading scorer Saku Koivu's goal-scoring drought reached nine games, but he did notch an assist on Kovalev's tally. Koivu has 10 goals and 20 assists in 22 games against the Lightning in his career, including five goals and eight assists in his last eight contests in Tampa.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 64 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Northeast Division. Lightning - 68 points, 2nd place, 18 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 24 goals; Koivu, 29 assists and 43 points; Steve Begin, 99 PIM. Lightning - Vincent Lecavalier and Fredrik Modin, 25 goals; Richards, 43 assists; Vaclav Prospal and Richards, 61 points; Pavel Kubina, 80 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 18.2 percent (59 for 324), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (294 for 362), 19th (tied). Lightning - Power play: 15.1 percent (53 for 350), 27th. Penalty killing: 83 percent (239 for 288), 13th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Huet (8-5-3, 3 SO, 2.27 GAA); Yann Danis (3-2-0, 1, 2.69). Lightning - John Grahame (22-16-1, 5, 2.76); Sean Burke (10-6-3, 1, 2.80).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 28; Canadiens, 4-3. At Tampa, Fla., Pierre Dagenais scored the go-ahead goal with 11:26 remaining and Theodore made 41 saves to snap Montreal's nine-game road losing streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 12-15-4 on the road; Lightning - 16-10-2 at home.

2005-2006 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 13 '06TBL 2 at MTL 1M. St. Louis
Mar 04 '06MTL 6 at TBL 2R. Zednik
Dec 28 '05MTL 4 at TBL 3P. Dagenais
Nov 08 '05TBL 2 at MTL 3R. Zednik
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%