Each of this season’s two meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens have largely been decided by the play of their respective No. 1 goaltenders, Ben Bishop and Carey Price.
While Price is expected to start the upcoming matchup Saturday in Montreal, the Lightning are hoping Bishop can recover quickly from an upper-body injury suffered in the most recent game.
Tampa Bay (31-18-5) and Montreal (29-20-5) have traded 2-1 shootout victories this season. Bishop helped his team snap a series-worst, four-game skid in Montreal on Nov. 12 by stopping all three of the Canadiens’ attempts in the extra session.
Price stopped all three of Tampa Bay’s shootout attempts in the Canadiens’ win in Florida on Dec. 28. He helped his team end a season high-tying four-game losing streak Tuesday with his third shutout of the season, a 3-0 victory over Carolina.
Price was 1-4-0 with a 5.15 goals-against average in his previous five starts. Backup goaltender Peter Budaj followed by making 34 saves in a 4-1 win in Boston on Thursday, another sign Montreal has moved on from its recent struggles.
Before their back-to-back wins, the Canadiens were outscored 27-11 while dropping five of six.
”It’s good for the confidence,” coach Michel Therrien said. ”Even when things weren’t going our way, we tried to stay positive.”
The Lightning are 0-2-0 on their four-game trip after winning three straight. They lost Bishop in the opening minutes of Thursday’s 5-3 loss to Ottawa after his collision with teammate Nikita Kucherov.
Tampa Bay’s second-leading scorer, Valtteri Filppula, also exited in the second period with a lower-body injury and is doubtful for Saturday after reportedly not practicing Friday. Filppula scored the lone shootout goal in Montreal in November.
Backup goaltender Anders Lindback is not expected to be available Saturday after sitting out with a lower-body ailment. Bishop was on the ice for Friday’s practice but his status is unclear.
”We’ll have to see how he’s feeling. We’ll make a decision on him tomorrow,” coach Jon Cooper said Friday. ”We’ll have a goalie in net tomorrow. I just don’t know what league his last game was from, NHL or the American (Hockey League).”
Bishop is 3-1-2 with a 1.41 goals-against average in six career starts against Montreal while Price is 5-1-1 with a 1.80 GAA in his last seven matchups versus Tampa Bay.
Price has given up two goals or fewer in each of his last four home starts against the Lightning, going 3-0-1 with a 1.44 GAA, and will try to help the Canadiens get their four-game homestand off to a winning start.
Bishop is 1-1-1 with a 1.90 GAA in three lifetime starts in Montreal. The Lightning had won nine of 11 on the road prior to this trip.
Tampa Bay captain and Quebec native Martin St. Louis has eight goals and seven assists in his last 12 games but hasn’t scored a goal in the last five contests. He scored the tying goal in regulation in the home loss to Montreal in December but has no points in his last four visits to the Bell Centre.
Canadiens captain Brian Gionta has five goals and three assists in his last eight games against Tampa Bay but only one assist in this season’s two matchups.