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Lightning-Canadiens Preview @NHL
Lightning-Canadiens Preview

GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (7-6-2) at Montreal Canadiens (11-3-1).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The last time Montreal and Tampa Bay faced off, the Lightning completed a sweep of the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to their first Stanley Cup championship.

They'll meet again under different circumstances when first-place Montreal hosts reeling Tampa Bay at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens have won four straight games and seven of nine overall, while the Lightning have allowed 15 goals in losing three in a row. Tampa Bay hasn't lost four consecutive games since Dec. 9-16, 2003, a streak that included a 5-2 defeat against Montreal.

Tampa Bay has won five of the last eight regular-season meetings in the series, but Montreal holds a 20-19-6-0 advantage overall.

Montreal extended its winning streak with a 3-2 victory Saturday over the Buffalo Sabres. Alexei Kovalev scored twice and Richard Zednik added a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who have won three straight one-goal decisions.

Overall, the Canadiens are 9-1-1 in one-goal games this season. They were 18-10-4 in games decided by one goal in 2003-04.

Montreal also continues to get solid goaltending from Jose Theodore. The 2002 Vezina and Hart Trophy winner made 28 saves, including a key stop with time running out in the win over the Sabres, Theodore's third in a row.

He is 4-5-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in his career against Tampa Bay in the regular season.

Dan Boyle and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist Saturday in Tampa Bay's 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lecavalier has three goals and one assist during a three-game points streak. A native of suburban Montreal, Lecavalier has six goals and 10 assists in 23 games versus the Canadiens.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 7): Lightning - 16 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Southeast Division. Canadiens - 23 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Lecavalier, 10 goals; Vaclav Prospal, 12 assists and 20 points; Pavel Kubina, 26 PIM. Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 7 goals; Koivu, 12 assists and 17 points; Mike Komisarek, 25 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 7): Lightning - Power play: 14.1 percent (14 for 99), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.1 percent (67 for 76), 2nd. Canadiens - Power play: 19.6 percent (20 for 102), tied for 11th. Penalty killing: 82.3 percent (84 for 102), 15th.

GOALTENDERS: Lightning - John Grahame (5-6-1, 1 SO, 2.78 GAA); Sean Burke (2-0-1, 0, 1.56). Canadiens - Theodore (9-3-1, 0, 2.98); Yann Danis (2-0-0, 1, 1.50).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 12, 2004; Lightning, 5-3. At Tampa, Fla., Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards each tallied twice as Tampa Bay rallied for four third-period goals.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 4-3-1 on the road; Canadiens - 5-3-0 at home.

Associated Press

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