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Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens preview: Could lineup changes bring better results for Bolts?

The Bolts are trying to end the Canadian trip on a high note.

NHL: APR 02 Lightning at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens: Game 6

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Bell Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN, RDS, TSN2

Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning had a rough afternoon against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. The game that seemed like an easy win for the Bolts, turned into a failure. The worst team in the Eastern Conference converted their chances in the first two periods and completely controlled the game in the last third of the game ending in a well-deserved defeat for the Lightning.

So it’s not a surprise that a coaching staff is trying to make some changes in the lineup. In practice yesterday, Ondrej Palat was moved to Tyler Johnson’s line and Alex Killorn was back on the line with Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph, his most common linemates during last season.

The biggest changes were on the blueline. Jon Cooper separated the McDonagh-Cernak pair, probably the most balanced and defensively reliable pair on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster last season. At practice, Eric Cernak worked with Victor Hedman, which should give Hedman more space for offensive action. Ryan McDonagh found himself on a pair with Kevin Shattenkirk. The two defensemen have already played together for the New York Rangers and team USA during the Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey

Cedric Paquette is practicing with the team but still wearing a red non-contact jersey and isn’t expected to return before the end of road trip.

Tonight’s opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, are one point ahead of the Bolts. At first sight, their record doesn’t seem very impressive, but they still lost just once in regulation this season, had a stunning comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, and defeated the reigning Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues last weekend. The Canadiens first line combined for 15 points over the first five game and one of the top lines in NHL in expected goals at 5v5 (despite the fact that it’s still a very small sample size). Their power play is also looking better than it was during the last season when the Canadiens were one of the worst teams in the NHL in this component.

During the 2018-19 season, the Lightning won 3 of 4 games against the Montreal Canadiens, scoring 15 goals in 4 games. This could be a good opportunity to get back on track for the Bolts.

After this game, the Lightning are facing the Boston Bruins on Thursday night before finally heading back home on Saturday.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Carter Verhaeghe - Luke Witkowski

Injured: Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Jan Rutta

Goaltenders Braydon Coburn

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Montreal Canadiens

Forward Lines

Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen - Max Domi - Jordan Weal

Jonathan Drouin - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel Armia

Paul Byron - Nate Thompson - Nick Cousins

Defense Pairings

Victor Mete - Shea Weber

Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry

Ben Chiarot - Christian Folin

Goalies

Carey Price

Keith Kinkaid