Feb 9, 2016; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn (17) plays the puck and Montreal Canadiens forward Sven Andrighetto (42) defends during the first period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens

The Tampa Bay Lightning (5-1-0) will travel to Montreal today to take on the Canadiens (6-0-1) in an early-season battle between division rivals. Both teams are coming off of wins after the Lightning thrashed the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 Tuesday night, and the Canadiens defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 on Wednesday.

The race for No. 1 in both the division and the conference is on the line when the two face-off. Every point counts, even this early in the season, and this win could be the difference in who sits alone on top.

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

These teams have a habit of winning all or nothing against each other in a season. Going back three years, the Canadiens swept the Lightning 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs. The following season, the Lightning swept the regular season series 5-0. And last season, Montreal brought it back for a 4-0 regular season sweep.

The Lightning are on their third game of a six-game road trip through Canada and New York. Already having dispatched the Maple Leafs and the Senators, this will be their last game north of the border.

While Tampa Bay has been using a two-goaltender approach to begin the season, Ben Bishop is expected to get his second straight start. All-time against Montreal, he has a 10-3-3 record with a 1.80 GAA and a .932 save percentage.

Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal is coming into this game as the winner of five straight, but also unrested after just playing the previous night.

Goalie Al Montoya got the start against the Islanders which means that Carey Price starts against Tampa Bay. While widely regarded as the best netminder in the league, Price has had trouble in the past against the Lightning, sporting a 10-11-5 record in 26 games against. He has a 2.53 GAA and .916 save percentage in those games.

The Stats

  • Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber is currently tied for third in the league in points and assists with nine and six, respectively. He also leads the NHL with a +12 plus-minus.
  • Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn are tied for second in the league with five goals each. Stamkos is tied for third in the league with nine points.
  • Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov is tied for third in the league with six assists.
  • Through seven games, the Canadiens have allowed the fewest goals against — they have allowed only 11.
  • The Lightning’s powerplay is operating at 30.4 percent — good for third in the NHL.
  • Montreal (6-0-1) started out last season 9-0-0 before finishing 38-38-6.

Tonight’s face-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

About Josh Kimble

Fourth year Journalism major at the University of Florida, focusing in Sports Journalism. Writer for WRUF and WUFT.

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