Montreal homecoming for Lightning stars
There will be a few familiar faces on the visitors bench at the Bell Centre on Saturday night when the Montreal Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Hockey Night in Canada (7 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca).
Montreal native Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis of suburban Laval, Que., return with former Habs forward Alex Tanguay to La Belle Province.
Tanguay, of Ste-Justine, Que., seems to be making his Lightning debut against his former club at the right time, having shrugged off a slow start by posting two goals and four assists in his last seven games.
Lightning rookie Victor Hedman will miss Saturday's game in Montreal after being sidelined by a hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil on Thursday. Fellow Tampa defenceman Paul Ranger (personal) will also miss the game.
As for the Habs, they are still without defencemen Andrei Markov (ankle) and Hal Gill (foot), a major reason for Friday's signing of Jay Leach off waivers from New Jersey.
All three players hope that the return marks a turning point for their struggling club. Tampa Bay (5-4-5) has posted a 1-1-1 record in the first three games of their four-game road swing through the Northeast Division, picking up a loss in Boston, a win in Toronto and a shootout loss in Ottawa.
"Obviously we wanted to win, but I think it was a good game," Lecavalier said about their most recent game, against the Senators. "It was a little bit like the game in Toronto — high intensity — and both teams had their chances and the goalies played well. I think it was a good game overall."
While the Lightning have struggled in extra-time scenarios, winning only one of six chances, the Canadiens (8-8-0) seem to thrive on the added pressure.
Montreal doesn't fear OT
The Habs return home after posting their third shootout victory of this young season, a 2-1 win in Boston on Thursday.
That white-knuckle win made them a perfect 7-for-7 in games that go past the customary 60 minutes.
Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said that while it took a little longer than he might have liked, the win against the Bruins has put his team on the right track.
"I think it's one step at a time," Martin said. "I think it's a step in the right direction the way we competed tonight. I know they had a lot of shots from their point, but I thought we boxed out a lot better and did a good job there. We did a much better job [clearing out rebounds]. I think our forwards were down low helping out our defencemen and got us some success."
The latest win was also a vote of confidence in Montreal goalie Carey Price, who made 42 saves for his first victory since Oct. 3 in Buffalo.
Price (3-6-0, 3.32) had dropped his six previous starts.