Fresh off key win, Lightning back home to face Habs
Monday, 02.27.2012 / 1:44 PM
Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer CANADIENS (24-29-10) at LIGHTNING (28-28-6)
TV: TSN-HABS (HD), SUN (HD), RDS (HD)
Montreal 4-5-1; Tampa Bay 5-4-1
Tuesday's clash marks the third of four regular-season meetings between these Eastern Conference foes. Each team has held serve so far at home, with the Bolts claiming a 4-3 home win on Dec. 29 and the Habs responding nine days later with a 3-1 triumph at Bell Centre on Jan. 7.
With eight of their next 10 games at home, the Bolts welcome the Canadiens to Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night in desperate need of two points as their chase for the East's final playoff spot continues. The Lightning bounced back in a big way after Saturday's 8-1 loss in Pittsburgh by rallying past the New Jersey Devils, 4-3, on Sunday to earn a signature road win. Montreal, meanwhile, looks to salvage its three-game Southeast Division road swing after being outscored by a combined 8-3 margin in consecutive defeats to the Washington Capitals on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
Trailing the Winnipeg Jets by 10 points for the last playoff spot in the East entering Monday's action, the Habs made the first move of trade deadline day by shipping Andrei Kostitsyn
to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a second-round pick in 2013 and a return of the conditional pick involved in the recent Hal Gill deal.
The trade came a day after another frustrating loss Sunday for the Habs. David Desharnais
and P.K. Subban
spotted Montreal a 2-0 lead by the 6:55 mark in the first period, but from there, the Canadiens' offense went silent. To make matters worse, Florida's offense surged with four unanswered goals to turn the tide of the game in an eventual 4-2 win for the Cats.
"This losing streak is not easy on anybody," Habs coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "The one thing you have to do is have a little pride and you have to keep working hard."
This season has been far from perfect for Tampa Bay, but the Bolts have managed to stay in the thick of the postseason race despite a slew of adversity, recent trade activity and injuries.
Guy Boucher's squad took the ice Sunday in New Jersey without Vincent Lecavalier
and Victor Hedman
, and a day removed from a blowout loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. After falling behind 1-0, Martin St. Louis
scored two of his three goals on the day in the second period to give the Bolts a 2-1 advantage entering the third. Petr Sykora then notched an equalizer early in the frame, but Tampa Bay would respond with goals by Matt Gilroy
and St. Louis, building a lead it would not relinquish.
"Obviously we have a lot of adversity on our side," Steven Stamkos
told NHL.com. "We're missing Vinny. We're missing Hedman. The odds are against us right now, but we're just going out there and doing the best that we can. We still do believe in this room. There are still 20 games left. That's a lot of hockey."
The Bolts, like the Habs, were active on the deadline front Monday, adding defenseman Mike Commodore in a deal with the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a conditional seventh round pick in 2013.
Desharnais registered a 2-point outing in Sunday's loss to Florida and has accumulated 2 goals and 8 assists over his last nine games for Montreal. … Stamkos has sustained his torrid pace all season long and his current stretch is no exception, as the 22-year-old forward has 6 goals and 7 assists over his last six games.
Lecavalier (hand), Dana Tyrell
(knee surgery), Mattias Ohlund
(knee surgeries) and Marc-Andre Bergeron
(back) are all on IR and out of the lineup for Tampa Bay. The Bolts may also be without Hedman and Ryan Shannon
on Tuesday against the Habs due to upper-body injuries. … Montreal is expected to be without Travis Moen
(upper body), Mathieu Darche
(upper body) and Brian Gionta
(biceps surgery). Andrei Markov
(knee surgery) is skating and still hopes to play this season, but there remains no timetable for a potential return.
After notching a hat trick on Feb. 4 against the Panthers, St. Louis struck again with three goals in Sunday's win over the Devils. St. Louis became only the fourth player in NHL history to register multiple hat tricks in a calendar month at age 36 or older. He joins elite company that includes Brett Hull (March 2001 at age 36 and March 2003 at 38), Gordie Howe (Feb. 1969 at 40) and Jean Beliveau (Feb. 1969 at 37).
"You want to fight until the end," St. Louis told the Tampa Bay Times. "We talked about it before the game. 'Let's just make sure we keep hanging around, and you never know what happens.' We go back home and give ourselves a chance. We did that by getting two points [in New Jersey]."