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Canadiens set to battle Lightning in Tampa on TSN

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The Sports Network
1/27/2010 12:15:11 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will attempt to halt the Tampa Bay Lightning's drive for their first three-game winning streak in a year on Wednesday at St. Pete Times Forum. Carey Price will get the start in goal.

Montreal was denied a third straight win on Tuesday night as it began a three-game road trip with a 2-1 regulation loss against Florida. Shawn Matthias scored both Florida goals, including one on a penalty shot, to lift the Panthers to the win at BankAtlantic Center.

Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens, who are locked in a four-way tie for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Jaroslav Halak stopped 27 shots in the loss.

Habs defenseman Paul Mara sat out his second straight game with an upper-body injury on Tuesday and is questionable for tonight's test.

The Canadiens, who will cap this swing Saturday in Ottawa, have lost three of their last four games. Montreal has a 13-13-1 record as the guest this season.

The Lightning are coming off back-to-back victories, marking the sixth time this year they have notched consecutive wins. Tampa Bay last won three in a row from January 19-27 of last season.

Tampa Bay is 2-0 so far on a four-game homestand and both of those wins came past regulation. The Lightning edged Toronto, 3-2, in overtime last Thursday and then posted a 2-1 win over Atlanta on Saturday.

Jeff Halpern scored the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout to lift the Lightning to their most recent win.

Steven Stamkos scored in regulation for the Lightning, who are 13th in the East with 52 points, but have won three of their last four games. Antero Niittymaki made 37 saves for Tampa Bay

"It's good for our goalie to keep us in it the whole game and give us a chance to win," Halpern said. "It's a credit to him. We obviously have to play a lot better to win consistently."

Niittymaki has started the last six games for Tampa Bay with Mike Smith sidelined with a strained neck, but Smith is now ready to rejoin the team. Smith, who hasn't played since January 12, will at least serve as the backup tonight with Dustin Tokarski sent back to Tampa's AHL affiliate in Norfolk.

The Lightning, who will close out this residency Friday against Anaheim, are 13-6-5 at home this season and 6-1-1 over their last eight outings at St. Pete Times Forum.

Montreal and the Lightning have split two meetings this year with each team winning on the road. The Canadiens have taken two of three and three of the last five overall encounters in this series. The Habs also have six wins in their last nine trips to Tampa.

Calgary at Dallas:

(Sports Network) - Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames will aim to avoid their longest losing streak in over 11 years this evening as they face a Dallas Stars club tonight at American Airlines Center that is seeking a fourth straight home win.

Nobody has mirrored the Flames' recent free-fall more than Iginla, who hasn't scored a goal in any of his last 11 games. He has just two assists in that span and not surprisingly, Calgary enters this game on a seven-game losing streak and having won just once in its last 10 games.

The Calgary captain, who still leads the club with 21 goals and 44 points, hasn't gone 12 games in a row without a goal since a 13-game rut from March 12-April 7, 1999. Iginla also remains just one assist shy of tying Theo Fleury for second most on the club's all-time list with 466.

Once contending for the top spot in the Northwest Division, the Flames have fallen eight points behind the co-leading Avalanche and Canucks as well as one point behind Detroit for eighth in the Western Conference.

The Flames will try to avoid losing eight straight tonight for the first time since December 22, 1998-January 5, 1999 and have scored just nine goals over their current slide. They were shut out for the second time on their losing streak Monday, falling to the Blues by a 2-0 margin.

"We certainly had opportunities here tonight and it's just not happening for us around the net," said Calgary head coach Brent Sutter.

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 27 shots in a losing cause. He has been in net for six of the Flames' last seven losses, posting a 2.81 goals-against average while allowing two goals or fewer in four of those games.

Kiprusoff is 6-10-2 with a 2.33 GAA in his career versus the Stars, but has yet to face them this year. Instead, backup Curtis McElhinney has split the two meetings with Dallas, posting a 2.98 GAA.

McElhinney took the loss in a 5-2 home setback on October 9, then made 38 saves in a 3-2 overtime win at Dallas on November 4. Iginla scored twice in that game, including the game-winner, and set up Daymond Langkow's game-tying goal with 49 seconds left.

That gave the Flames their third win in their last four versus the Stars and four wins in their last five trips to Dallas.

The Stars have also struggled as of late, going 4-8-0 in January. That has Dallas tied with Anaheim for last place in the Pacific Division and for the 10th spot in the Western Conference with 55 points.

The club is also coming off a shutout loss, getting blanked by Colorado, 4-0, on Sunday. Marty Turco turned aside 32-of-36 shots for the Stars, who finished a three-game road trip with a 1-2-0 mark.

"They're a good team, they do a lot of good things, they work their tail off and support each other. There's things that we want to do and that we knew they were going to do," Turco said of Colorado.

Both Brenden Morrow (oblique) and Jere Lehtinen (upper body) missed their fourth game in a row due to injury, but both are expected to return tonight. However, it was announced on Tuesday that rookie center Tom Wandell will need season-ending surgery on his knee because of a torn ACL.

Dallas begins a four-game homestand tonight and is 14-5-5 as the host. The Stars are also 11-2-2 in their last 15 at home as compared to 2-11-3 in their last 16 on the road.

Turco is 14-8-2 with a pair of ties and a 1.84 GAA in his career versus the Flames, making 20 saves in the overtime loss. Alex Auld was the winning netminder back in October to move to 6-5-2 with a 2.80 GAA lifetime against Calgary. It is unknown who will start tonight.

Loui Eriksson leads Dallas with 21 goals and has scored in both games versus the Flames this season.

St. Louis at Vancouver:

(Sports Network) - Vancouver fans better take some pictures tonight because they won't be seeing the Canucks for a long time.

The Canucks play their last home game until the middle of March on Wednesday night as they host the St. Louis Blues at General Motors Place.

With opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics set to begin in Vancouver on February 12, the Canucks will embark on what is technically a 14-game road trip on Saturday in Toronto. Vancouver will play eight games before the NHL's Olympic break and then another six when play resumes in March.

That means that following tonight the Canucks won't play at GM Place until March 13 versus the Senators.

First, Vancouver will try to wrap a four-game homestand perfect and extend its season-best winning streak to six games. Vancouver hasn't won that many games in a row since February 10-22, 2007.

The Canucks got the game-winning goal from an unlikely source on Monday versus Buffalo, as Brad Lukowich scored for the first time in 111 games to lift Vancouver to a 3-2 victory. It marked the 33-year-old defenseman's first goal since November 5, 2007 while with Tampa Bay. Lukowich had spent most of this season in the AHL before skating in his eighth game this season with Vancouver on Monday.

"I just put my stick down screamed like crazy," said Lukowich, who converted a Daniel Sedin no-look, between-the-legs pass for the goal. "It's been a while, that's why I looked to the heavens."

Henrik Sedin and Mikael Samuelsson also tallied for the Canucks, who are 12-2-2 over their last 16 games and are tied with Colorado for first place in the Northwest Division with 66 points each.

Daniel Sedin ended with two assists and Henrik also had a helper to up his NHL-leading point total to 76. He is also second in the league with 52 assists and has four goals and eight helpers over a five-game point streak as well as nine tallies and 23 helpers over his last 16 games.

Alex Burrows, meanwhile, notched an assist to run his point streak to 12 straight games, a span in which he has 13 goals and six helpers.

Making his 23rd straight start, Roberto Luongo turned aside 30 shots and has a 1.99 goals-against average over Vancouver's five-game win streak.

The Blues come to town having won the opener of a three-game tour through western Canada with Monday's 2-0 blanking of the Calgary Flames. Ty Conklin made 34 saves for his third shutout of the season and 13th of his career.

"You win hockey games on the road when your goaltender performs like that. [Conklin] he was solid," said St. Louis head coach Davis Payne.

Patrik Berglund and David Perron scored for the Blues, who snapped a two-game losing streak and won for the sixth time in their last nine tries. St. Louis is five points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

David Backes missed his third straight game due to an upper-body injury while Carlo Colaiacovo has missed two in a row with a lower-body ailment. Both players remain day-to-day.

The Blues had won three straight over the Canucks before Vancouver posted a 4-3 overtime win at St. Louis on December 31. The Blues have lost five of their last seven at Vancouver.

Mike Cammalleri (Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
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