LIGHTNING (25-12-4) at CANADIENS (26-11-2)
TV: SUN, RDS, SNE
MONTREAL -- The Tampa Bay Lightning want to exorcise bad memories of a Stanley Cup Playoffs sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper wasn't sure after the Lightning's morning skate if he was dealing with memories or nightmares about the Montreal arena. And he couldn't resist referencing Ryan Callahan's disallowed goal in Game 3 of his team's four-game loss to the Canadiens in their Eastern Conference First Round playoff series.
"I can't believe it's been eight-plus months since we've been here," Cooper said. "It's clearly negative memories just because of the way the games turned out and the series turned out. I don't believe we played poorly here, I thought we gave ourselves a chance to win both our games here. I was looking for the yellow tape around the goal on our side there to see if it was still there."
Tampa Bay (25-12-4) and Montreal (26-11-2) are tied for the Eastern Conference lead with 54 points.
The Lightning have won five of six, including a 4-2 win at the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. They close out a four-game road trip against the Canadiens, who return from a five-game trip with a six-game winning streak that began with a 4-1 win against Ottawa on Dec. 20.
"If you want to be a top team in this League you have to compete against the top teams," Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. "That's the position we're in right now. We like our group in here, we're definitely comfortable and confident, but this is going to be a good test. These guys are playing extremely well right now and we need to not only play well at home and beat good teams at home, but beat good teams on the road. This is a tough building to play in, so it should be a good gauge for us."
Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin will play in his hometown for the first time in his NHL career.
"It's going to be exciting for sure," said Drouin, who was the third pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. "When you're a kid you come to watch the Canadiens as a young guy, and now when I stepped on the ice for the morning skate it was pretty special. I looked around and it brought back a lot of memories."
The 19-year-old will have 15 people coming to the game. He has two goals and 13 assists in 31 games.
"He's light years ahead of when he came in," Cooper said. "He's really starting to come into his own. He's going to be a fun player to watch."
The Canadiens will be looking to take a measure of themselves with respect to their 7-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Oct. 13.
"They were really prepared and motivated to face us and they completely deserved their win when we played them," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "But one thing is for sure, we're capable of playing much better that we did at the beginning of the season against the Lightning. We're a bit different as a team. I think we've made some progress over the course of the season and we've made a couple of additions to our lineup too, so I'm looking forward to (Tuesday) to see where we are with respect to a good team like the Lightning."
Here are the projected lineups:
Alex Killorn – Steven Stamkos – Brett Connolly
Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette – Valtteri Filppula – Ryan Callahan
Jonathan Drouin – Dan Boyle – J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman – Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison – Andrej Sustr
Mark Barberio – Matthew Carle
Scratched: Brenden Morrow, Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Radko Gudas (knee surgery)
Max Pacioretty - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Gallagher
David Desharnais - Tomas Plekanec - Dale Weise
Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust
Michael Bournival - Manny Malhotra - Sven Andrighetto
Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu - Sergei Gonchar
Alexei Emelin - Tom Gilbert
Scratched: Mike Weaver
Injured: PA Parenteau (upper body)
Status report: Parenteau will miss his second game since he was injured Friday on a hit by New Jersey Devils forward Tim Sestito. The Canadiens sent defenseman Bryan Allen to Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Tuesday.
Who's hot: Palat has one goal and 11 points in his past six games, and seven points during a three-game point streak. Kucherov has nine points in his past six games. Carle has a four-game point streak. Johnson has two goals and four assists during a three-game point streak. Stralman has four assists during a three-game point streak. Hedman has two goals and two assists in his past two games. … Price has not allowed more than two goals in each of his past nine starts (8-1-0). Subban has four assists in his past two games. Pacioretty has three goals and one assist in his past four games.