LIGHTNING (12-5-0) at CANADIENS (9-8-1)
TV: RDS, SUN
Last 10: Tampa Bay 7-3-0; Montreal 4-5-1
Season series: This is the first of four meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens, who are now Atlantic Division rivals. They won't face each other again until Dec. 28 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Big story: The Lightning suffered a huge blow Monday afternoon, when they lost No. 1 center Steven Stamkos to a broken tibia during a 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Stamkos, who leads Tampa Bay with 14 goals and 23 points, is out indefinitely.
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Stamkos left the game on a stretcher with 7:11 remaining in the second period, when he slid into the right post at the Lightning's side of the ice after contact with Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Stamkos seemed to slam his right leg into the post.
"At this point Steven will be out indefinitely," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement released by the team. "The medical staff in Boston, in consultation with our team physicians, has made the decision to surgically repair the injury. The procedure is expected to take place [Tuesday] morning. The biggest concern for me, and the rest of the Lightning, is that decisions are made in Steven's best long-term interest, and we feel this is the appropriate course of action."
"Thanks to all my family, friends, and fans for all the well wishes!" Stamkos wrote on Twitter (@RealStamkos91). "I will be back as soon as possible !!"
Lightning: On top of Stamkos' brutal injury, the Lightning also saw their four-game winning streak come to an end in Boston. Patrice Bergeron and Daniel Paille scored 20 seconds apart late in the second period and Jarome Iginla sealed the deal with an empty-net goal in the final minute of regulation. Tampa Bay managed 28 shots on goal, but they were all denied by Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Now, the Lightning are forced to move on without Stamkos, one of the League's superstars.
"We went 16 games without anybody being hurt and the snowball went down the hill today," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "It was a little tiny guy and it ended up a mountain when it got to the bottom of the hill. Again, I don't know the prognosis on all these guys, but you lose nobody for 16 games and you lose three in one, that's tough.
"And it's hockey. Everybody loses guys. Just pick a team. Everybody's lost players. Ours just happened all at once and you can't hang your head. You know it's going to happen at some point. That's why you have depth in the organization and we'll see where we're at."
Canadiens: Montreal ended a four-game skid (0-3-1) by earning a 4-2 victory against the New York Islanders at Bell Centre on Sunday. Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller each had a goal and two assists, and Carey Price was solid in a 24-save performance.
More good news arrived Monday, when coach Michel Therrien said his club is close to having forward Daniel Briere (concussion) and defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee) back in the lineup. Briere centered a line between Michael Bournival and Rene Bourque at practice on Monday.
"We hope to see Briere back tomorrow," Therrien told the Canadiens' website. "We’ll see how he is feeling after the morning skate, then we’ll make a decision.
"He has experience playing both center and on the wing, so we won't hesitate to use him at either position. If he's in the lineup on Tuesday night, it will be at center."
Who's hot: Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has a five-game points streak (one goal, five assists).
Injury report: Besides Stamkos, the Lightning are also expected to be without defensemen Keith Aulie (upper body) and Sami Salo (lower body), who were also injured Monday. Defensemen Mattias Ohlund (knee), Brian Lee (knee) and forward Tom Pyatt (collarbone) are on injured reserve. … Briere is questionable for Montreal, while Emelin is more likely to make his season debut this weekend. Left wing Brandon Prust (upper body) and defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder surgery) are out.