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Lightning brush off idea they have Canadiens number

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning may be in control of the Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Montreal Canadiens, but don't tell them that.

Despite winning their past seven games against Montreal and earning a decisive 6-2 win in Game 2 on Sunday, members of the Lightning are quick to say the best-of-7 series isn't over.

And as the series shifts to Amalie Arena for Game 3 on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET: USA, CBC, TVA Sports), forward Brian Boyle isn't willing to say that the Lightning have the Canadiens number.

"I wouldn't say that, I think we set out to win Game 1 we did that," Boyle said Monday. "Then we had an opportunity to leave Montreal up 2-0 and we had a couple of power-play opportunities that we took advantage of. As the series goes on we've got to expect they are going to up the ante a little bit and we have to match that."

One thing the Lightning have going for them as the series moves forward is Steven Stamkos broke his 11-game goal-scoring drought in the second period Sunday on a breakaway goal against Canadiens goalie Carey Price.

Although Tampa Bay has proven it can win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs without Stamkos scoring goals, Boyle said as the games move forward it was important for the Lightning captain to play without that in the back of his head.

"[Stamkos] is going to be huge for us going forward, and if we want to continue to do damage in the playoffs he's going to lead the way," Boyle said. "It doesn't matter how well he does the other things, he wants to score goals and we're going to need him to, so it was big for us."

Boyle and Lightning coach Jon Cooper agreed Tampa Bay's 7-0-0 record against the Canadiens since the start of the regular season is a meaningless stat heading into Wednesday. Cooper said a stat like that can sometimes get into the head of an opponent, but it should not keep the Lightning from focusing on the task at hand.

"I think every time one team had a dominance over another it's human nature for that to come into your mind," Cooper said. "I know that certain situations, like when we played Boston last year and early this year, we wondered how we were going to beat those guys. So far our matchups against Montreal have worked in our favor, whether it was the time we played them or our personnel. It's still a race to four and we're only halfway there. We've beat Montreal seven straight times and that's great, but we need two more wins. What's in the past is in the past."

Cooper said he will know more about the status of forward Cedric Paquette on Tuesday. Paquette left the game Sunday in the second period and did not return.

"I fully expect [Cedric] to practice tomorrow," Cooper said. "And it will probably be the old game-time decision on Wednesday."

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