Preview: Lightning try to tie franchise road wins record against Canadiens
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, in first place in the NHL, will be looking for their league-leading 22nd road win Saturday night when they visit the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
The Lightning (41-17-3) picked up their 21st road win of the season Thursday with a 4-3 win in Ottawa against the Senators, and will be out to match their franchise record for road wins against the Canadiens.
The Lightning had a franchise-record 22 road wins in 2003-04 and 2006-07.
Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who got the night off against the Senators, has won eight of his past 11 starts. He has given up two or fewer goals in 28 of his 49 starts this season. He leads the league with seven shutouts this season to tie the franchise record (six of them on the road), set by Nikolai Khabibulin in 2001-02.
The Lightning had a 4-1 lead against the Senators and hung on to win. Tampa coach Jon Cooper will be looking for a little bit more of a killer instinct against the Canadiens.
“We’re just at that time of the year, especially when the teams are right on our heels, that we’ve be got to be a little bit more responsible,” Cooper told NHL.com. “For a large part of the year, we were doing that. For whatever reason, we’ve taken our foot off the gas in that regard.”
Goaltender Louis Domingue, who helped the Lightning hang on for the win against Ottawa, agreed.
“There’s that feeling after a game where you’re supposed to be happy with how you played as a group,” he told NHL.com, “and I think we’re missing that tonight, which is unfortunate.”
Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov will be looking to build on his lead in the race for the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. He had two assists against the Senators and has 80 points, seven more than Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.
The Canadiens are coming off a win over the New York Rangers on Thursday and the only intrigue about their season is who will still be on the roster after the NHL trade deadline Monday at 3 p.m. There is some speculation veteran forward Tomas Plekanec, who has an expiring contract, could be held out of the game Saturday in case of a trade being completed by the deadline Monday.
Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty has also been the subject of trade rumors.
The Canadiens are without two key players. Goaltender Carey Price is out indefinitely after being hit in the head with a puck against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Goaltenders Antti Niemi and rookie Charlie Lindgren, called up when Price was injured, are handling the duties for the foreseeable future.
With the injuries to veterans and the poor results, this season has become about the future for the Canadiens. Defenseman Noah Juulsen, 20, made his NHL debut in the 3-1 win against the Rangers.
He was the 26th pick in the 2015 NHL draft and had played this season with the Laval Rocket of the AHL after sustaining a foot injury at the beginning of the season.
“We probably would have had him up here earlier had he not been injured in training camp,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “So that’s how highly we thought of this guy. Even if we were in the middle of a battle for a playoff spot, I don’t think we would have hesitated to bring this guy up.”
“I was obviously nervous going into the game, but the guys helped me through that,” Juulsen told montrealcanadiens.com. “I think it showed in my play.”