Canadiens try to keep rolling vs. Lightning
Friday, 01.31.2014 / 10:51 PM
Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com
LIGHTNING (31-18-5) at CANADIENS (29-20-5)
TV: CBC, RDS, SUN
Last 10: Tampa Bay 5-4-1; Montreal 4-6-0
Season series: This is the third of four games between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. The teams have split the first two games, each winning by a 2-1 score in the other team's building.
Big story: The Lightning is coming off consecutive losses for the first time in nearly two months, and it doesn't look like things will get any easier in Montreal. In addition to the continued absence of Steven Stamkos, coach Jon Cooper lost another important forward and potentially both of his goalies during a 5-3 road loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Center Valtteri Filppula is doubtful with a lower body injury he sustained against Ottawa, and backup goalie Anders Lindback is out after being injured in the same game. Starting goalie Ben Bishop is questionable after he was hit in the head by teammate Nikita Kucherov's skate, forcing him from the game against Ottawa.
A decision on Bishop will be made Saturday morning.
The Canadiens are on the opposite end of the spectrum, coming off consecutive wins for the first time in 2014 and looking to build on it in their second straight game against a team ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings following a 4-1 win Thursday against the Boston Bruins.
"The last two games gave confidence to the players," coach Michel Therrien said. "We have to realize that we can have success when we stick to the system and follow the team concept. We've proven we can be a good team when we follow the plan."
Lightning: The Lightning allowed five goals against the Senators and has now allowed at least three goals in five of its past six games. Prior to this stretch, the Lightning allowed three or more goals in five of its previous 16 games.
Missing Bishop, if indeed he can't play, won't help that situation. But Cooper appears more concerned with the level of desperation and urgency being exhibited by his club of late.
He felt the Lightning did not display any of those qualities against Ottawa until the late stages of the third period, by which point it was too late.
"Maybe we'll show [the players] the last four minutes of the game [Thursday] night and tell them this is how we used to play for a full 60," Cooper said Friday.
Canadiens: The Canadiens were in a similar situation, having allowed at least four goals in six straight games, but they appear to have righted the ship during their modest two-game winning streak. Montreal has allowed one goal in its past two games against two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Bruins.
It's not a coincidence in the eyes of Therrien that the offense came to life at the same time, scoring seven goals in two games after scoring five times in the previous four games.
"The fact we've played well defensively has given us a chance to win games," he said. "When you don't play well defensively, you get in trouble. When you play well defensively, the offense usually takes care of itself. But we've been attacking and that's allowed us to spend more time in the offensive zone. The more we do that, the better we are."
Who's hot: For the Lightning, rookie Tyler Johnson has five goals and four assists in his past seven games…Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher has a goal and three assists in his past two games.
Injury report: The Lightning are without Stamkos (leg), Lindback (lower body), probably Filppula (undisclosed) and perhaps Bishop (head). Cooper said Filppula would likely be back in the lineup Tuesday at the Minnesota Wild, and if Bishop doesn't play he would be back Tuesday as well…The Canadiens are missing defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder), and forwards Alex Galchenyuk (hand) and Ryan White (upper body), though White skated with the team Friday. Forward Brandon Prust missed practice Friday with an illness and is questionable.