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Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens preview: Can Nikita Kucherov set a new team record?

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The last game of a three-game homestand.

NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens : Game 59

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, NHL Network

Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t lost in regulation since the end of January, which was also the first game after the bye-week. Just a week ago, after losing in a shootout against Blues, it seemed like the team is in their deepest slump this season. But it looks now like that was just a blip as they’re on a four-game winning streak and have at least a point in the last eight games.

Their next opponent is the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are currently in the first wild-card position. The Canadiens are a potential first-round opponent for the Bolts, which makes this game interesting, although the Lightning have won both of the previous games against Montreal this season.

The key matchup of tonight’s game could be the contribution of the special teams units for both sides. Despite having pretty decent stats at 5v5 (the Habs are the 3rd in the NHL in shot share), they have been mediocre team when it comes to special teams results. The Canadiens are 30th on the power play in the whole league and their Penalty Kill units aren’t much better.

The return of Shea Weber surely helped them a lot this season. Their defense pair with Jeff Petry has been playing very aggressively in a good way lately. It also should be mentioned that Carey Price is feeling better after a horrible start of the season when he was under .900 save percentage.

After passing the 90-point mark, Nikita Kucherov is likely going to surpass another team record very soon. Kucherov has 66 assists this season, which is two assists less than the team record, established by Brad Richards (2005-06) and Martin St. Louis (2010-11). With the way he’s been scoring lately, no one would be surprised if he reaches that mark by the end of the first period.

Another player who’s rewriting team history right now is Andrei Vasilevskiy. With his fifth shutout of the season on Thursday agains against Dallas, Vasilevskiy has tied Ben Bishop’s record for most shutouts in franchise history at 17. When the team is scoring at least five goals every game, it’s not very hard to get a win. Vasy had been struggling a little after returning from his injury early in the season, but things have turned out well lately. Take a look at his shot map:

Eric Cernak is still listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury but could be back in the lineup tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Mathieu Joseph

Scratched: Danick Martel, Ryan Callahan,

Defense

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi

Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Injuried: Erik Cernak

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards

Jonathan Drouin - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher

Tomas Tatar - Max Domi - Andrew Shaw

Artturi Lehkonen - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Joel Armia

Nicolas Deslauriers - Nate Thompson - Dale Weise

Defense

Victor Mete - Shea Weber

Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry

Brett Kulak - Jordie Benn

Goalies

Carey Price

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Matthew Peca, Charles Hudon

Injured: Paul Byron