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Canadiens at Lightning preview

McDonagh to debut for Tampa Bay; Montreal has lost three straight

by Corey Long / Correspondent

CANADIENS (25-31-11) at LIGHTNING (47-17-4)

1 p.m. ET; SUN, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV


The Game

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh will make his debut with the Tampa Bay Lightning when they try to win their fifth game in a row, hostingthe Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena on Saturday.

McDonagh, who has not played since Feb. 7 because of a hand injury, has missed six games since he was traded to the Lightning from the New York Rangers on Feb. 26.

Tampa Bay is 9-0-1 in its past 10 games and lead the Atlantic Division by six points over the Boston Bruins having played three more games. Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL with 87 points (33 goals, 54 assists), and Andrei Vasilevskiy on Thursday became the first NHL goalie to win 40 games this season, 5-3 against the Rangers.

The Canadiens are on a three-game losing streak and 3-6-5 in their past 13 games. Montreal, which lost 5-0 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday, has the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, 15 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This is the final game between the teams this season. The Lightning won two of the first three.


Players to watch

Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher has five points (three goals, two assists) in the past five games..

Lightning forward Yanni Gourde has 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in the past 18 games.


They said it

"The expectation is to win and play well, and we've shown it before. We've played this team tight. We need to go out there and play a good, strong road game. Don't make mistakes and make them earn everything they are going to get." -- Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher

"We're looking for him to do all the same things he did in New York. It's playing 5-on-5 and penalty kill. Just do all the things he's done to make him the player he is today and not try to do too much. We're really excited to have him back." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper on defenseman Ryan McDonagh

Canadiens projected lineup

Paul Byron -- Jonathan Drouin -- Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk -- Jacob de la Rose -- Charles Hudon

Artturi Lehkonen -- Phillip Danault -- Andrew Shaw

Nicolas Deslauriers -- Byron Froese -- Daniel Carr

Mike Reilly -- Jeff Petry

Karl Alzner -- Noah Juulsen

Jordie Benn -- Brett Lernout

Charlie Lindgren

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Logan Shaw, Nikita Scherbak

Injured: Carey Price (concussion), Ales Hemsky (concussion), Max Pacioretty (lower body), Victor Mete (hand), David Schlemko (upper body), Rinat Valiev (undisclosed)


Lightning projected lineup

Steven Stamkos -- Tyler Johnson -- Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde -- Brayden Point -- J.T. Miller

Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Adam Erne

Ryan Callahan -- Cedric Paquette -- Chris Kunitz

Victor Hedman -- Jake Dotchin

Ryan McDonagh -- Dan Girardi

Anton Stralman -- Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Scratched: Andrej Sustr, Braydon Coburn, Cory Conacher, Slater Koekkoek

Injured: Ondrej Palat (lower body)


Status report

McDonagh was a full participant at practice Friday and could make his Lightning debut. ... Lernout was recalled from Laval of the American Hockey League after Valiev was injured Thursday. ... Hudon is expected to play after missing four games.


Stat pack

Niemi is 4-1-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his past eight starts. He was scratched Tuesday with a lower-body injury and was the backup Thursday. ... Stamkos has seven points (three goals, four assists) in the past four games.

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