LIGHTNING (25-12-4) @ CANADIENS (26-11-2)
Top spot in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs on Tuesday night as the Canadiens play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first game at the Bell Centre in 2015.
Both squads boast 54 points on the year thanks to some terrific play as of late: The Habs haven’t dropped a game since December 18, registering six consecutive victories, while the Lightning have collected 13 points in their last 10 outings.
The league’s top offense will go up against the league’s third-best defense on Tuesday night. Jon Cooper’s contingent has scored 134 goals since the start of the year. That’s an average of 3.24 goals per game. For their part, the Canadiens give up just 2.26 goals per game. Carey Price is largely responsible for that with his unbelievable play in goal.
Michel Therrien will field the same lineup that bested the Penguins on Saturday night in Pittsburgh. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau remains sidelined with an upper-body injury. He will miss a second straight game. Defenseman Bryan Allen cleared waivers on Tuesday afternoon. He was assigned to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Lightning closed out 2014 with four straight wins before falling to the Penguins on January 2. On Sunday, Tyler Johnson scored two goals to lift the Lightning to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Johnson is leading the Lightning with 15 goals and 43 points this season, which ranks him fourth in the league in that category. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov boast 39 points on the year.
Ben Bishop will get the start in goal for the Lightning. Bishop has won 19 of his 29 outings this season. He boasts a 2.37 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage.
Jonathan Douin should play his first career game at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night’s tilt will be the second of five games between the two teams this season. The Canadiens dropped a 7-1 decision to the Lightning back in October in Tampa.
Carey Price earns Molson Cup honour for December
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