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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 28th (All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (22-13-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (23-11-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to stretch their longest winning streak of the season to six games when they welcome the Montreal Canadiens for Saturday's Atlantic Division battle at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Lightning have posted a season-high five straight wins and hope to extend the hot streak in their first game following the league's Christmas break. The tear has helped push Tampa into second place in the Atlantic, where it trails Boston by five points and is two ahead of third-place Montreal.
Tampa last played on Monday when it slammed the rival Florida Panthers, 6-1, in Sunrise to post the club's first five-game winning streak since Jan. 22- Feb. 1 of last season.
Martin St. Louis had one goal and two assists and J.T. Brown added a pair of goals as the Lightning pounded the Panthers at BB&T Center. Valtteri Filppula had one goal and assist and Victor Hedman had three helpers for the Lightning.
Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn added one goal apiece and Ben Bishop made 28 saves in the win. The Lightning will try to record six straight wins tonight for the first time since a seven-game winning streak from Jan. 17-Feb. 4, 2012.
St. Louis' three-point night on Monday extend his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists during the run and is leading Tampa with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 37 games this season.
"I don't know if we've had a better player over the last eight games than No. 26," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said of St. Louis.
Bishop expects to get the call in net tonight and is 3-1-1 with a 1.81 goals against average in six career outings against Montreal.
Tampa, which boasts a superb 14-3-1 record on home ice this season, will welcome the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Montreal hasn't played since posting a 4-3 overtime win last Saturday in Nashville. David Desharnais' unassisted goal 1:43 into overtime lifted the Canadiens to the close win in Music City, after Montreal wasted a three-goal cushion.
The Canadiens coughed up a 3-0 lead over the last two periods but were saved by Desharnais, who collided with Mattias Ekholm at the left boards and plucked the puck from the Predators defenseman before rifling a slapshot past Carter Hutton from the left circle.
Instead of walking away with just a point -- or worse, empty-handed -- the Canadiens secured the two points they looked to have safely wrapped up early on.
"We definitely didn't want to come out on the losing end of that one," said Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who had 31 saves.
P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec also scored for the Canadiens, who won for just the third time in seven games.
Montreal is playing the third test of a six-game road trip on Saturday and is 10-6-1 as the guest this season. The Habs will continue their swing by remaining in the Sunshine State for Sunday's test against the Panthers.
Tampa recorded a 2-1 shootout win when it visited the Canadiens in Montreal on Nov. 12 for the first of four meetings between the clubs this season. That win halted a four-game series' losing streak for the Bolts and Montreal has claimed five of seven overall.
The Canadiens have posted wins in each of their last two trips to Tampa.
Price is 9-6-3 with a 2.45 GAA in 18 career starts against the Lightning, while Habs backup Peter Budaj is 2-1-0 with a 3.36 GAA over three lifetime appearances versus Tampa.
12/28 10:30:06 ET
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