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Game Day - Lightning - March 16

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Monday morning ahead of their tilt against the Lightning.

- Sixteen players took part in Monday morning’s on-ice session. Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Tom Gilbert and Tomas Plekanec were among those players who elected not to hit the ice.

- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that defenseman Alexei Emelin will make his return to the lineup on Monday night. He hasn’t played since February 18, when he was injured early on in a game in Ottawa.

“You need depth on the blue line. Right now, everyone’s healthy, which is a good thing. In Alexei’s case, he’s an important player in our defense corps because of his ability to be a physical presence,” offered Therrien, referencing Emelin’s team-leading 157 hits during the 2014-15 campaign. “Unfortunately, at the time of his injury, he was probably playing his best hockey of the season. We hope that he’ll be able to showcase the good things that he was doing before he was injured. We really liked what he was contributing to the team in terms of his physicality and the way he moved the puck. It was a big loss for our team when he went down. That’s why we’re happy to see him back.”

- The Canadiens’ bench boss was not prepared to discuss who would sit in place of Emelin, but he did indicate that he would not be using seven defensemen against the Lightning.

- With Torrey Mitchell sidelined with an upper-body injury, Brian Flynn returns to the Canadiens’ lineup on Monday night. He’s been a healthy scratch for the last two games, suiting up most recently on March 10 in the 1-0 overtime loss to the Lightning.

“It helps watching, but obviously I wanted to play. Hopefully, I can play well tonight and keep staying in there,” offered Flynn, who has played four games with the Canadiens since coming on board at the trade deadline earlier in the month. “I just need to skate well. If I’m playing center, I need to do a good job on my side on faceoffs and just be reliable defensively.”

- Solving Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop has proven difficult for the Canadiens so far this season. Having conceded just three goals against in three games against the CH, Bishop has been a real thorn in their side. That’s something Michel Therrien’s troops will undoubtedly have to change tonight if they have any hope of besting a Lightning squad that has certainly proven what they’re capable of on offense.

“For starters, he covers up a lot of the net. He’s rarely off his angles, so it’s certainly tough to beat him with a shot. Like any goalie, though, there are ways to beat him, traffic and rebounds and just getting to the net,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who has three goals and five points in 10 career regular season games against Tampa Bay. “Their defensemen do a good job of blocking you out and making it difficult to get in there, but if you want to beat this team, you’re going to have to find ways to do that. Last game, I think they won the battles around the blue paint. I think tonight we’ve got to do a better job there."

- Price will make his 57th start of the season for the Canadiens on Monday night. He boasts a 10-9-5 record, a 2.44 goals-against average, and a .917 save percentage in 24 career regular season outings against the Lightning.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.

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