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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens preview: Can the Bolts get a win against the injured Habs?

Tyler Johnson could play his 500th career game tonight

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: Game 36

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SN360, Fox Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue a series of games against their opponents from the Atlantic Division. On Saturday night, they’re taking on the Montreal Canadiens who are two points ahead of them while playing two more games.

Yesterday, the Lightning reassigned Mathieu Joseph to the Syracuse Crunch but he didn’t play in the Crunch’s game last night. Instead, he returned to Tampa this morning. Carter Verhaeghe left practice early yesterday but the team didn’t provide any addition details as to why. At morning skate, all of Joseph, Verhaeghe, Tyler Johnson and Braydon Coburn were on the ice. Coburn has been out for the last several weeks with an injury. Johnson missed the last game before the break with an injury. Which skaters play tonight is anyone’s guess at this point so we won’t bother speculating.

In net, it seems likely that Andrei Vasilevskiy will start tonight against the Habs and Curtis McElhinney will get the Detroit Red Wings on the second half of their back-to-back games.

The Montreal Canadiens have had their ups and downs this season, as have most teams from the Atlantic Division. They’re currently 7-3-0 through their last ten games. Prior to this stretch, they had eight losses in a row. Their latest record seems pretty impressive given the fact that they lost several players to injuries.

Former Bolt Jonathan Droiun hasn’t played since November 16th, when he was injured after a hit by Alex Ovechkin. Forward Paul Byron was placed on the injured reserve at the end of November and Joel Armia got a hand injury in the last game before the Christmas break against the Winnipeg Jets. Jesperi Kotkaniemi has also been questionable to return from a concussion. But per the latest reports, he’s available to play against the Lightning and already practiced with the team wearing a regular jersey on Friday morning.

The Canadiens seem better on the power play this season that last season when it was their biggest weakness. They’ve converted at least one power play opportunity during each of their last five games. However, their penalty kill units remain one of the worst in the league and will be challenged by the Lightning’s dangerous power play.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde

Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Mitchell Stephens

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Luke Schenn (scratched), Braydon Coburn (injured),

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Montreal Canadiens

Forward Lines

Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen - Max Domi - Nick Suzuki

Nick Cousins - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Jordan Weal

Ryan Poehling - Nate Thompson - Riley Barber

Injured: Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Paul Byron

Defense Pairings

Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber

Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry

Victor Mete - Cale Fleury

Goalies

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren