MONTREAL – For the second time in as many seasons, the Canadiens and Lightning will meet in the playoffs.
The Habs’ second round opponent was confirmed on Wednesday night following a Detroit-Tampa Bay quarterfinal series that needed a deciding Game 7 to be solved. Braydon Coburn was the difference-maker at Amalie Arena, scoring the game-winning goal to send the Lightning beyond the opening round for the first time since 2010-11, when the Bolts bowed out to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference final.
The Canadiens and Lightning meet for just the third time in the postseason since the NHL expanded to Tampa in 1992, having previously faced off in both 2004 and 2014. After being swept by the Lightning in the second round in 2004, the Canadiens returned the favor last spring, ousting Tampa in the only four-game series of the 2014 postseason.
Experience-wise, the Lightning count 12 players who participated in last year’s playoffs, while the Canadiens have 15, making for a lot of familiar faces this time around. Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, who is coming off an excellent regular season with 37 wins in 63 starts, was sidelined with an injury a year ago.
The Canadiens solved the 6-foot-7 netminder just eight times across five games over the 2014-15 campaign, posting a 0-4-1 regular season record against Tampa, who for their part lit the lamp 21 times against the Habs.
In addition to Bishop, Steven Stamkos will be another player to keep an eye on, having racked up five goals and two assists against the Canadiens this season. Likewise, rookie forward Vladislav Namestnikov also notched three goals and three assists in just four games against Montreal this season.