TAMPA - The Canadiens skated at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which marks the start of a three-game road trip.
- All players were present and accounted for during the on-ice session, except for Torrey Mitchell. The Canadiens confirmed that Mitchell came down sick and remained at the team hotel.
- For his part, Jordie Benn did practice, but will be unavailable on the back end for a second straight game due to injury.
- Meanwhile, Michael McCarron - who missed the last two games as a healthy scratch in favor of Steve Ott - was back centering the fourth line flanked by Dwight King and Andreas Martinsen on Saturday. Ott was an extra attacker, along with Brian Flynn.
Head coach Claude Julien is eager to see the trio go about their business against a Lightning club that will undoubtedly give everything they've got as they continue to fight to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.
"We definitely got bigger. That's for sure. What I like, though, is that all three of those guys can play good hockey, too. It will be interesting to watch them tonight," said Julien, who says the makeup of the line actually reminds him of another group of big men, in particular.
"During my first stint with the Canadiens, we played against Boston and I remember looking at the line of [Shawn] Thornton, [Mike] Knuble and [Glen] Murray and thinking they came in at 700 pounds. I think we have something similar now," added Julien.
Video: Claude Julien on the test that awaits in Tampa
- After rattling off four straight wins, the Lightning find themselves in prime position to make a final push to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13. With that in mind, the Canadiens fully expect Jon Cooper's contingent to be firing on all cylinders on Saturday night with so much at stake as the regular season winds down.
"They see the light at the end of the tunnel. They control their own destiny to a certain extent. When you look at their last games, they've been playing like a hungry group, determined to do everything they can to make the playoffs," said Julien. "It will be a good test."
Alex Galchenyuk is certainly in agreement there.
"Every time we play them, they're a skilled team. They make a lot of plays. They're a fast team. They move the puck well, so we've got to be ready for them," said Galchenyuk, who is just four goals shy of reaching the 20-goal plateau for a third straight year. "But, we also have to focus on our game and what we can control and not think about them too much. We know it's going to be a hard game."
Video: Alex Galchenyuk on facing the Lightning
- Hard, yes, but the top line of Max Pacioretty, Phillip Danault and Alexander Radulov is coming in hot and primed to keep their scoring mojo going as the Canadiens look for their fourth consecutive victory.
"We've had a lot of meetings. We had good chemistry before [Radulov] got hurt [in early March], so that's tough when it happens. But, we've found our chemistry again on and off the ice. That will be important for the playoffs, too, that we keep that chemistry going," said Danault, who has 12 goals and 37 points in 77 games so far this season. "We've proven it over the last few games. Everyone is happy when things are going well. We'd just like to keep it going."
- Carey Price will make his 60th start of the season for the Canadiens on Saturday night, while the Lightning will counter with Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CITY and TVA Sports, as well as on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.