CANADIENS (3-0-0) @ LIGHTNING (1-0-1)
The Canadiens will do battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night for the first time since Michel Therrien’s troops eliminated Jon Cooper’s contingent in four straight games in the opening round of the playoffs last season.
If the Habs manage to secure a win in Tampa Bay, not only will they sit atop the NHL standings, but they also will have swept their first road trip of the season after successfully downing the Maple Leafs, Capitals and Flyers in dramatic fashion. On Saturday night in Philadelphia, the Canadiens overcame a 3-0 deficit to ultimately earn a shootout victory on the strength of a goal by Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and another strong performance by Carey Price.
Price should be between the pipes once again on Monday night in the Sunshine State. It would be his third start of the season. The Anahim Lake, BC native boasts a 10-7-4 record against the Lightning over the course of his career, in addition to a 2.32 goals-against average and a stellar .939 save percentage.
As the Lightning get set to contest two games in as many nights beginning with the tilt against the Canadiens, Jon Cooper may look to divvy up the workload between goaltenders Ben Bishop and Evgeni Nabokov.
For their part, the Canadiens can certainly count on the likes of workhorse Tomas Plekanec to contribute on offense as the Czech forward has already lit the lamp four times in three games. The Canadiens’ bench boss could also turn to defenseman Andrei Markov in a variety of situations. The Russian rearguard is coming off a solid outing in Philadelphia, finishing the tilt with one goal and three points while logging 27:46 of ice time.
The Lightning’s offensive output early in the 2014-15 campaign has come primarily from its back end. Victor Hedman has two goals and three points in two games. Steven Stamkos, meanwhile, has been limited to just one assist.
While Alexei Emelin’s status for Monday night’s game remains uncertain due to an upper-body injury that has him listed as day-to-day, the same can be said for Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin who has yet to play a game for Tampa Bay after sustaining a fractured right thumb.
The game is set to get underway at 7:30 p.m. EST at Amalie Arena.