CANADIENS (44-24-9) at LIGHTNING (38-29-9)
7 p.m., ET; TVA Sports, CITY, SUN, NHL.TV
Canadiens team scope
The Montreal Canadiens, who have clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth, hope to extend their Atlantic Division lead. The Canadiens, 12-3-1 in their past 16 games, are six points ahead of the Ottawa Senators, who have one game in hand. Ottawa plays at the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. The Canadiens will be without defenseman Jordie Benn and forward Torrey Mitchell; Benn will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury, and Mitchell is out with the flu. Playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are fighting for a playoff spot, should benefit the Canadiens, according to forward Brendan Gallagher. "We enjoy these games and I think it brings out the best in our group," said Gallagher, who has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past two games. "It's a good test against a desperate hockey team that needs a win. Our focus is just to continue to play good hockey, continue to put together wins and feel good about ourselves going into the playoffs."
Lightning team scope
The Tampa Bay Lightning aim to win their fifth straight game and gain ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They enter their game against the Canadiens four points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the playoffs from the conference; each has six games remaining. Toronto has two more regulation/overtime wins, which is the first tiebreaker. Forward Nikita Kucherov, who missed a 5-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday with an illness, will return. "I feel good," Kucherov said after the morning skate Saturday. "Happy to be back. The guys played well without me but we have to continue to play well and get the two points." Kucherov was named the NHL's First Star for March after scoring 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games during the month. The Lightning have back-to-back games against the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars over the weekend to close out a four-game homestand. "We are right there but we need to continue to get the points," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "It's important to win these games at home." Tampa Bay was 10-4-1 in March.
Canadiens projected lineup
Max Pacioretty -- Phillip Danault -- Alexander Radulov
Alex Galchenyuk -- Andrew Shaw -- Artturi Lehkonen
Paul Byron -- Tomas Plekanec -- Brendan Gallagher
Dwight King -- Michael McCarron -- Andreas Martinsen
Andrei Markov -- Shea Weber
Brandon Davidson -- Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu -- Alexei Emelin
Scratched: Steve Ott, Brian Flynn, Nikita Nesterov
Injured: Al Montoya (lower body), Jordie Benn (upper body), Torrey Mitchell (illness)
Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn -- Vladislav Namestnikov -- Jonathan Drouin
Adam Erne -- Yanni Gourde -- Joel Vermin
Gabriel Dumont -- Greg McKegg -- J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin
Anton Stralman -- Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn -- Luke Witkowski
Injured: Steven Stamkos (knee surgery), Jason Garrison (lower body), Ryan Callahan (hip), Tyler Johnson (lower body), Cedric Paquette (lower body)
Stamkos and Johnson took part in the morning skate, and coach Jon Cooper has not ruled either out for Sunday. … Benn participated in the Canadiens morning skate. ... Vermin was officially recalled from Syracuse of the American Hockey League on Saturday, though he did not leave the Lightning.
Price is 11-2-0 with 20 goals allowed and a shutout in his past 13 games. … Byron has nine points (six goals, three assists) in his past nine games. … Kucherov has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in a five-game point streak and has 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) in his past 17 games. … Palat has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in a six-game point streak. … Drouin has eight points (four goals, four assists), in his past six games.