Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SN360, Fox Sun
Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize
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
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde
Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Mitchell Stephens
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Luke Schenn (scratched), Braydon Coburn (injured),
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
Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber
Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry
Victor Mete - Cale Fleury