LIGHTNING (46-23-7) at CANADIENS (47-21-8)
TV: SUN, RDS, SNE
Defenseman Andrej Sustr will miss 1-2 weeks and center Tyler Johnson will miss the game Monday against the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, RDS, SNE) and is listed as day-to-day, each with upper-body injuries, Cooper said.
Center Cedric Paquette is a game-time decision after he was injured crashing into the net trying to prevent an empty-net goal at the end of the game against the Red Wings.
Now the Lightning are back in Montreal, and potentially lost four players in one game, if Paquette is included.
"It's unreal, because we go a long stretch and everything's rolling pretty well, and then you lose a multitude of guys in one game," Cooper said. "It's no different than the last time we were in here, we lose Palat, Coburn and Paquette in one game. We kind of had to rally around that, and we did. Now we have significant injuries to some players that are a big part of our team. We're just going to have to find a way."
Coburn was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers on March 2 in the hopes he would form a second defense pair with Garrison, allowing Cooper to play Victor Hedman with Anton Stralman on the first pair. Now each is injured, with the best-case scenario for Coburn to be recovered from his lower-body injury just before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the best case for Garrison to be back in the middle of the first round.
"To have (Garrison) and Coburn as a pair to be able to throw out there against any line in the League, it's pretty comforting," Cooper said. "But you have to have depth, and we're going to be tested in that now."
Tampa Bay, which is in second place in the Atlantic Division, can secure a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win, or an overtime or shootout loss Monday.
"We've kind of had this all along, throughout the whole year," Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman said about facing injuries. "Nothing really changes. I think everybody knows what they're supposed to do out there and how we play and our systems. It shouldn't change much, but obviously we'll miss guys that are not playing. But I think the guys coming up have proved before they can play here."
The Lightning have won each of their first four games against the Canadiens and can complete a season series sweep. Tampa Bay is 7-0-1 in eight regular-season games since the beginning of the 2013-14 season against Montreal, which swept the Lightning in four straight games in their Eastern Conference First Round series in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Cooper said he'd be lying if he said the playoff series loss didn't serve as motivation to his players.
"I think as the season goes on it's probably worn off a bit just because last year is behind us now and we're looking forward to a playoff run this year," Cooper said. "But there's no question, do these games get circled on the calendar? Probably. And I'm sure the guys in there, they know what has happened to us here. And this might be the last time we see them this year, so it would be nice to go out with a win."
The Canadiens clinched a playoff berth Saturday and hold a three-point lead over Tampa Bay for first place in the division.
"It's just another opportunity for us to prepare for the postseason," Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said. "And obviously we know that our previous meetings against these guys, we didn't get the result that we wanted but I think out of the times that we played, especially the last time, I thought we played some good hockey. It came down to a bounce, hopefully we get that bounce now; a tremendous opportunity to get a big win against a good hockey club."
Subban was in a good mood after neither he nor Montreal goalie Carey Price were injured as a result of their collision Saturday late in the third period of a 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Panthers.
"I was relieved much before that because I knew if there was a problem he wouldn't have finished the game," Subban said. "There's no need for him to do that, but obviously it was a scary moment for everybody."
Price leads the NHL with 41 wins and has an opportunity to tie the team record of 42, achieved twice by Jacques Plante and matched by Ken Dryden in 1976-77.
"I wasn't aware of that; obviously we want team results, but when it comes to Carey, he deserves recognition for his great play this year and that could be one example of our team hopefully trying to step up and get him some acknowledgment," left wing Max Pacioretty said. "He's the backbone of this team and it should give us some motivation to play well in front of him."
Here are the projected lineups:
Scratched: Jonathan Marchessault
Injured: Tom Gilbert (upper body)
Status report: The Lightning recalled Witkowski and Marchessault from Syracuse of the American Hockey League. Witkowski was paired with Hedman at the morning skate; Marchessault will draw into the lineup if Paquette is unable to play.
Who's hot: Bishop, who was injured and missed last year's playoff series against the Canadiens, has made 92 saves on 97 shots while winning four straight, including a shutout, against Montreal this season. He is 9-1-2 in 13 games against the Canadiens, with a 1.42 goals-against-average and a .945 save percentage. … Pacioretty has two goals and three assists in his past five games. He scored his 10th game-winning-goal Saturday, one behind Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals for the NHL lead.
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