While neither team wants to look too far ahead, it's no secret that the Canadiens and Lightning are headed on a collision course to meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With just two points separating the two clubs, tonight's match-up in Tampa Bay won't be just a playoff preview, but also play a factor in which team will have home ice.
Montreal has the chance to secure a playoff berth if they defeat the Lightning in any fashion or if they get one point against the Lightning and the Capitals lose to the Stars in any fashion or if the Capitals lose to the Stars in regulation and the Devils lose to the Sabres in any fashion.
The Lightning, who hold a game in hand on Montreal, would clinch a playoff spot if they defeat the Canadiens in any fashion and the Capitals lose to the Stars in regulation and the Devils lose to the Sabres in any fashion.
Got all that?
This will be the first time the Canadiens face Steven Stamkos this year. He missed the prior three games, which were all settled beyond regulation. Tampa Bay has won two of the three games.
The Lightning are 4-0-3 in their past seven games at home, and kick off a six-game homestand tonight, but Montreal has won its past three games in Tampa Bay.
Carey Price and Ben Bishop have played in all three games of the season series and share identical .962 save percentage numbers against each other.
Neither team has scored a power play goal against each other this year, both going 0-10.
Valterri Filppula has the hot stick for the Lighting, riding a 12-game point streak (5-11-16pts), while Daniel Briere has scored twice against Tampa. His next goal will be his 300th NHL marker.
The Habs have juggled the forward lines for tonight, moving Lars Eller on the third line wing position.
Here's how the Habs are expected to look tonight in Tampa
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Vanek
Galchenyuk - Plekanec - Gallagher
Eller - Briere - Gionta
Bourque - White - Bournival
Markov - Emelin
Bouillon - Subban
Murray - Weaver
Price in goal