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Canadiens aim to complete sweep of Lightning

by Brian Hunter


(Montreal leads best-of-7 series, 3-0)


Big story: For the 31st time in their history, the Montreal Canadiens lead 3-0 in a Stanley Cup Playoff series. They've completed the sweep in 22 of the 30 previous instances, and can become the first team in 2014 to advance out of the first round as they try to eliminate the Tampa Bay Lightning in what promises to be a party-like atmosphere at Bell Centre.

"It's pretty surreal to be a part of. You can't hear a thing down there on the ice," forward Brendan Gallagher said about the fan support. "They're standing, they're cheering the whole time. It's just fun to be a part of it and play in front of it. You know the fans are enjoying it just as much as we are."

Team Scope:

Lightning: While there might not seem to be a lot of bright spots for Tampa Bay at the moment, at least star forward and team captain Steven Stamkos escaped serious injury in Game 3 when he was able to return from an accidental knee to the head from Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin. Stamkos missed the end of the second period but came back for the third, and on Monday said he expects to play Tuesday.

Only three NHL teams have climbed the mountain from a 3-0 series deficit to come out on top, most recently the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers against the Boston Bruins. Lightning defenseman Matt Carle was a member of that Flyers team.

"When you lose three it feels like the world is collapsing a little bit," Carle said. "But you get one game and then you get some momentum going. We're looking forward to tomorrow."

Canadiens: It was a full skate Monday for Montreal, with the exception of Emelin and fellow defenseman Andrei Markov, who took off for maintenance purposes, and injured forward Alex Galchenyuk (lower body), who isn't likely to return until the second round at the earliest.

One year after winning the Northeast Division only to slump late in the regular season and get upset in the first round by the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens are on the verge of roaring into the next round and buying themselves a significant period of rest. If they're already patting themselves on the back, there was no evidence of that publicly among the players.

"We understand that we haven't done anything yet. You need to win four games to win a series and we all know the fourth win is always the hardest," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "We can't get ahead of ourselves by any means because we still haven't accomplished anything. Our focus has to be like it has been the first three games on playing the right way, playing a complete game and doing all the little things well. At the end of the day, we'll look back on how the game went and move on from there."

Who's hot: Stamkos set up both Lightning goals in Game 3 and leads the team with four points. … Gallagher has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak for the Canadiens. Forward Rene Bourque has three goals in the past two games. Defenseman P.K. Subban has back-to-back games with two assists.

Injury report: Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop (upper body) remains sidelined. Defenseman Sami Salo (upper body), who missed Game 3, skated Tuesday morning and is possible. … Montreal forward Travis Moen (concussion) was cleared for contact Monday and took part in his first full practice. Moen said he was "2-3 practices away from playing." His last game was March 24.

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