Tonight on the ice, a pair of teams from the Atlantic Division will square off as the Tampa Bay Lightning do battle with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. The Lightning check in off a 4-3 road win over Ottawa, while the Canadiens are off a 3-1 home win over the Rangers. Goalie Probables: The Lightning will send out Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Canadiens will counter with Antti Niemi.
Bolts Hold Off Late Charge From The Sens
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to battle the Vegas Golden Knights for the most points in the league, but they are also receiving stiff challenges from the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are both hot at the moment. The Bolts have a one-point lead over the Golden Knights in the race for the President’s Cup and they now have a three-point lead over the Bruins and a four-point lead over the Leafs in the division after taking down the Senators on the road on Thursday night by a score of 4-3. The Lightning had a 4-1 lead as the teams headed to the 3rd period and they had to hold on for dear life in the game as the Sens scored two in the 3rd to tighten things up. They couldn’t get the tying goal and the Bolts held on for the win. Scoring for the Lightning was Tyler Johnson, which was his 17th of the year, Victor Hedman, which was his 9th, Vladislav Namestnikov, which was his 20th and Brayden Point, which was his 4th in his last three games and 24th of the year. Tampa Bay has gone 21-13 on the road and they have averaged 3.47 gpg and have allowed 2.62 gpg in those games.
Grabbing the win in the game was Louis Domingue, who stopped 33 of the 36 shots that he faced to move to 3-8 with a 3.82 GAA and a .881 save percentage on the year. Andrei Vasilevskiy is slated to get the start in this one and he has gone 35-14 with a 2.33 GAA and a .928 save percentage on the year overall, including 16-9 with a 2.16 GAA and a .937 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 33-33 with a 2.41 GAA on the road and 28-19 with a 2.50 GAA against the Atlantic Division, while against the Canadiens he has gone 3-3 with a 2.13 GAA.
Tampa Bay comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.49 gpg, while also ranking 13th in shots taken (32.2 spg) and 2nd in power play conversions, converting on 24.4% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been very solid so far as they come in ranked 8th in goals allowed, giving up just 2.61 gpg, while also ranking 21st in shots allowed (32.5 spg) and 23rd in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 22.1% of their chances.
Habs Top Rangers To End Skid
The Montreal Canadiens entered their game with the New York Rangers riding a six-game losing streak and they were able to snap that skid with a 3-1 win here at home. Don’t break out the playoff plans, though as this team is still a long way from being in contention. The Habs come in at 11 points out of the 8th slot in the Eastern Conference and 27 points out of 3rd place in the Atlantic Division. They will not be in the playoffs this year and getting a second win in a row will be tough as they are taking on the best team in the league in this one. Scoring for the Habs in the win was Tomas Plekanec, which was his 6th of the year, Jeff Petry, which was his 10th and Phillip Danault, which was his 8th and it was an empty-netter that put the game away after the Rangers scored with just 3:00 left in the game to make it 2-1 at the time. The Canadiens have gone 15-16 here at home for the year and they have averaged 2.87 gpg and have allowed 2.74 gpg in those games.
Carey Price is out indefinitely with a concussion, so it was Antti Niemi that got the start against the Rangers and he allowed just the one goal on 32 shot attempts to move to 3-7 with a 3.86 GAA and a .888 save percentage on the year, including 2-1 with a 2.91 GAA and a .925 save percentage here at home. In his career, he has gone 134-78 with a2.34 GAA in his home games and 23-27 with a 2.64 GAA against the Atlantic Division, while against the Lightning he has gone 5-5 with a 3.37 GAA.
The Canadiens have been poor on offense so far as they come in ranked 28th in the league in scoring at 2.49 gpg, while also ranking 6th in shots taken (34.0 spg) and 11th in power play conversions, converting on 21.0% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been poor so far as they come in ranked 23rd in goals allowed, giving up 3.08 gpg, while also ranking 12th in shots allowed (31.5%) and 25th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 22.9% of their chances.
Tampa Bay is:
- 29-11 in their last 40 road games vs. a team with a losing home record
- 21-9 in their last 30 vs. the Atlantic
- 4-12 in their last 16 vs. the Eastern Conference
- 2-8 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning % above .600
The Canadiens are off a nice 3-1 home win over the Rangers, but now they will play a real team. Antti Niemi had a strong game against the Rangers, but that is a bad offensive team right now and he has struggled overall this year. He will be taking on the best offense in the league, so I expect him to struggle in this one. The Habs are not a good offensive team and Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 2.16 GAA on the road and a 2.13 GAA in his career against the Canadiens, while Niemi has a 3.37 GAA against the Bolts in his career. The Lightning will take down the punchless Habs in this one, even though the Lightning have struggled in this series of late.