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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens preview: Bolts look to sweep a season series against Habs

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Last home game before hitting the road.

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

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: GAME 67

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Eyes on the Prize

Preview:

After losing to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s chances to win the division and clinch the home-ice advantage for later playoffs rounds have drastically dropped. With 16 games left in the regular season, the Lightning are nine points behind the Bruins and it seems almost impossible to close that gap, although both teams still have one face-to-face meeting later this week.

No big changes on injury side. After a game against the Bruins, Jon Cooper confirmed that Steven Stamkos’ surgery went well and the timeline of his return didn’t change, which means that the Lightning captain won’t be available for the next 6-8 weeks. Ryan McDonagh is already practicing in a regular jersey, and he isn’t expected to play tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, but per Jon Cooper he should be ready when the Lightning start the road trip on Saturday. Jan Rutta has also started to skate with the team but he’s a little bit further from return and might be ready when the Lightning return from their road trip next week.

According to yesterday’s practice, Yanni Gourde returned to the fourth line where he plays with Pat Maroon and Cedric Paquette, and Mitchell Stephens was promoted to the third line with Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Johnson on wings. Carter Verhaeghe will probably return to the press box.

The Montreal Canadiens were quite busy at the trade deadline, however besides Ilya Kovalchuk no big names were involved in those trades and the Habs acquired a couple of new picks in the next two drafts. Since deadline they went 2-1-1, beating the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and losing to the New York Rangers in regulation and to the Vancouver Canucks in overtime.

Both teams have already met three times this season. The Lightning have won all three games so far and are one victory away from sweeping the season series against the Canadiens. Last regular season, the Bolts were close to doing it, but failed, losing in the last game. In the last game, the Canadiens outshot the Lightning almost twice, but Andrei Vasilevskiy kept them in the game, making 38 saves on 39 shots on goal.

After tonight’s game, the Lightning are heading on a short road-trip to face the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs in a four-day span.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Blake Coleman - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Barclay Goodrow - Mitchell Stephens - Tyler Johnson

Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Yanni Gourde

Carter Verhaeghe

Injured: Steven Stamkos

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

Injured: Ryan McDonagh, Jan Rutta

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Montreal Canadiens

Forward Lines

Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen - Nick Suzuki - Joel Armia

Paul Byron - Max Domi - Jordan Weal

Charles Hudon - Jake Evans - Dale Weise

Defense Pairings

Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber

Brett Kulak - Jeff Petry

Xavier Ouellet - Christian Folin

Goalies

Carey Price

Charlie Lindgren

Injured: Jonathan Drouin, Victor Mete, Noah Juulsen