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Game Preview: Lightning @ Canadiens

The Canadiens wrap up the home portion of their regular-season schedule on Friday night at the Bell Centre

by Montreal Canadiens @canadiensmtl / canadiens.com

Lightning (40-30-10, 90 points) @ Canadiens (46-25-9, 101 points)

It's now official that the Canadiens will be playing the New York Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs, but Claude Julien's troops still have two regular-season games left before the highly-anticipated series officially gets underway.

The Canadiens will wrap up the home portion of their schedule on Friday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Bell Centre.

Michael McCarron and Andreas Martinsen draw back into the lineup. They'll play on a line with Dwight King. That means that Steve Ott, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn are all healthy scratches.

Meanwhile, Carey Price will make the 500th start of his NHL career. Following the morning skate, Julien confirmed that Price will not be in goal against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, though. He may not even make the trip to Michigan. That decision will come later on tonight.

Julien also indicated that defenseman Alexei Emelin will miss the final two games of the regular season. After being called up from the AHL's St. John's IceCaps on Thursday, Brett Lernout will take his spot in the lineup against the Lightning and patrol the blue line alongside Nathan Beaulieu.

With respect to Shea Weber and Jordie Benn, Julien mentioned that the pair will be ready for the start of the playoffs. While Weber is out for the final two games of the season, Benn may play against Detroit.

The two teams met last Saturday night in Florida, with the Canadiens posting a 2-1 overtime win. Alexander Radulov sealed the deal with his 17th goal of the season just 51 seconds into the extra frame.

Video: MTL@TBL: Radulov nets scorching one-timer for OT win

Since then, the Canadiens have played two more road games, besting the Panthers in Sunrise before falling to the Sabres in Western New York. Only Tomas Plekanec managed to light the lamp against Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Jon Cooper's club posted a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre to keep their Eastern Conference playoff hopes alive. 

The Lightning moved to within three points of the Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot with just two more games remaining on their schedule. Mike Babcock's contingent could have punched their playoff ticket with a win.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East, as well as on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.

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