LIGHTNING (5-4-5) at CANADIENS (8-8-0)
Last 10: Tampa Bay 4-3-3; Montreal 6-4-0
Season series: This is the first of four meetings between the Lightning and the Canadiens. The clubs split their series last season with Montreal winning one game in overtime and one in the shootout.
Big story: Saturday's game marks the return of fan favorite and Montreal native Vincent Lecavalier -- the subject of many trade rumors last spring involving the Canadiens and the Lightning. Tampa's captain and right wing Martin St. Louis have had their fair share of past success playing the Canadiens in their hometown province. In their first matchup of last season, the duo each collected a pair of points. Alex Tanguay, who signed with Tampa this summer and who wore the Blue-Blanc-Rouge last season, will also face his former team for the first time.
Lightning: Tampa Bay's 3-2 overtime loss to the Senators on Thursday wasn't the result they wanted, but the Bolts certainly improved their game. The Lightning, who were previously 1-for-16 on the power-play on the road this season, scored both their goals with the extra man. Tanguay got the Bolts on the board early with his second goal of the season and Stamkos' 12th of the season would force the extra period.
"Obviously we wanted to win but I think it was a good game," Lecavalier said. "It was a little bit like the game in Toronto, high intensity, and both teams had their chances and the goalies played well. I think it was a good game overall."
Canadiens: Thursday's win for Montreal might not have been big in the sense of the 2-1 final score, but it was critical for goalie Carey Price, who had lost six straight games. He delivered a 42-save performance against the Bruins, including several outstanding stops. The Montreal defense, which had had been struggling the last few games amid injuries and inexperience, played solidly and gave Price the chance he needed to win. The shootout victory over Boston was Montreal's seventh overtime or shootout win this season. The Canadiens also added some depth on Friday, claiming defenseman Jay Leach off waivers from the Devils.
"I think it’s one step at a time," coach Jacques Martin said after the shootout victory over the Bruins. "I think it’s a step in the right direction the way we competed tonight. I know they had a lot of shots from their point, but I thought we boxed out a lot better and did a good job there. We did a much better job [clearing out rebounds], I think our forwards were down low helping out our defenseman and got us some success."
Who's hot: Stamkos leads the Lightning with 17 points (12 goals, five assists) and his six power-play goals ties him for the League lead. While St. Louis has just one point over his last three games, the veteran follows Stamkos with 16 points. Just in time to roll into Montreal, Tanguay has started to heat up with six points in his last six games after being restricted to just one point in his first seven games.
Mike Cammalleri scored his second shootout goal of the season Friday to lift the Habs over the Bruins. He's tied with Tomas Plekanec for the team lead with 14 points Center Glen Metropolit scored in regulation on Thursday, his second goal in three games.
Injury report: The Lightning will be without their 2009 first-round pick, as Victor Hedman is day-to-day with an upper body injury after a hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil on Thursday. Defenseman Paul Ranger is out for personal reasons after having requested a leave of absence.
While still expected to be out until the end of the month, defenseman Ryan O’Byrne (knee) skated Friday morning before practice with the Habs' head athletic therapist. Fellow D-men Hal Gill (hairline fracture of his foot) and Andrei Markov (severed ankle tendons) are still recuperating. Matt D'Agostini is out with a concussion and Georges Laraque (back issues) is day-to-day.
Stat pack: St. Louis has 13 goals and 12 assists in 31 career games against the Canadiens.
Puck drop: Lecavalier and St. Louis like to score in their hometown, but with Price coming off a great game and facing a Montreal defense that didn't leave its goaltender out to dry, Tampa may find it harder to break a smile after this matchup at the Bell Centre.