GAME: Montreal Canadiens (28-21-6-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (28-17-7-3).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Tampa Bay Lightning look to continue piling up points, and increase
their large lead in the Southeast Division when they conclude their season
series with the Montreal Canadiens.
Tampa Bay went into the All-Star break with a 15-point division lead over
the Florida Panthers after an impressive 16-game stretch in which it earned 26
of a possible 32 points.
The Lightning lost just twice in regulation over that span, posting a
12-2-0-2 record from Jan. 8-Feb. 5.
Their lead in the Southeast is at 14 points despite having just the
sixth-most points in the East with 66, eight behind conference-leading
Tampa Bay picked up another point in its first game back from the break on
Tuesday, but coach John Tortorella thought his club should have earned two
after what he considered a blown call led to Toronto coming back for a 4-4 tie.
Toronto's Gary Roberts scored with 44.4 seconds left in the third period,
shortly after a disputed icing call went against the Lightning.
"Don't ask me ... don't even bother," Tortorella said after the game.
Despite the missed opportunity to earn two points, Tortorella was pleased
with his team's performance against the Northeast Division-leading Maple Leafs.
"We played them toe-to-toe tonight," Tortorella said. "We didn't finish
the game. We had it almost finished, but things didn't happen. We'll take the
point. I'm very happy with the point and I'm very happy with the effort."
Montreal failed to gain ground in the East playoff race in its first game
since the break, falling 2-1 on the road to Florida on Tuesday.
The Canadiens, in seventh place in the conference, had a three-game winning
streak snapped after an unfortunate bounce off the boards with goalie Jose
Theodore behind the net resulted in Florida's easy winning goal at 1:50 of the
"It was a tough loss," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "The way the
winning goal was scored, it's a bad bounce off the boards and those things
happen. We had plenty of time to get back in the game and we had lots of shots.
"It was one of those games where you try, but we didn't try (hard)