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Game Preview: Canadiens (25-31-11) @ Lightning (47-17-4)

The Canadiens face quite the challenge to get back in the wins column, as they pay a visit to the League-best Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon

by Joanie Godin, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

Claude Julien's troops suffered a 5-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, and they'll be trying to put that one behind them - as well as the one before that, a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils two days before.

The important thing, according to the coach, is to not let themselves get affected by the rough patch they currently find themselves in, which includes a laundry list full of injuries.

"It's frustrating, because you always want to win. It's important to try to stay positive with the players and give them challenges, give them a chance to grow and gain experience," affirmed Julien after practice on Friday. "That's what we go back to the day after a loss and we're always working on different situations to help our players improve. Tomorrow is probably the biggest challenge against one of the best teams in the League, which has a lot of depth and which skates well. The skill level of most of those players is very high, so it's going to be a big undertaking."

Frustration has started to set in on the Montreal squad, who have lost two straight games after collecting at least a point in their seven previous contests. But still, the message remains to improve and to be patient.

"It's always going to test your patience, but we're not necessarily frustrated that way. We're more frustrated with the loss. We don't like losing and the day I accept losing is the day I will no longer want to be a coach," continued the Habs bench boss. "But we still have a lot of players in a position they're not necessarily ready for, but we don't have a choice but to put them there because of all the injuries. We have to temper our expectations a bit and the day after a loss, we have to try to come back to earth and get our heads in the right place."

Their heads will definitely have to be in the right place to face Steven Stamkos and co., who already have 98 points in the standings and have won their last four games.

Offensive threat Nikita Kucherov will be one to watch; he currently leads the League with 87 points (33G, 54A). Stamkos is no slouch himself, having recorded 78 (27G, 51A) to place sixth overall.

After the game on Thursday, Julien mentioned he'd rather find solutions than excuses, a tenet echoed by Brendan Gallagher following practice in Tampa.

Julien a mentionné après la rencontre de jeudi qu'il préférait trouver des solutions plutôt que des excuses. Brendan Gallagher est du même avis.

"When you feel these emotions and you feel these things, you have to work towards a solution to change the results," said the team's leading goal-scorer, with 24. "Frustration isn't going to help anything, but you have to get sick of losing at a certain point and do whatever it's going to take to find that solution."

The search for solutions continues on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Amalie Arena. The game will be available on TSN2 and RDS on TV, and on TSN 690 and 98,5 fm on the radio.

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