Tip-off:Thursday, April 18, 2013 – 7:30 PM ET
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The Montreal Canadiens were unable to earn a point after clinching a NHL playoff berth and now are looking to impress their YouWager dans by getting their edge back while regaining sole possession of the Northeast Division lead.
Tonight Montreal will also try to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss when they host the slumping Tampa Bay Lightning.
Since securing their return to the postseason with a 5-1 win versus the Buffalo Sabres last week, the Canadiens have been outscored 18-8 in three consecutive regulation losses. That failure to earn points opened the door for the Boston Bruins to match Montreal’s 57 points on Wednesday.
However, Boston currently holds the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference because they’ve played one fewer game.
Montreal (26-12-5) was unable to recover after falling behind 4-0 in the first 25 minutes versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday and suffered a 6-4 loss.
The Canadiens will try to bounce back during the visit from Tampa Bay (17-22-4), who is currently 0-2-2 in their last four games and have dropped a season-high five straight on the road.
The Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets but fell 4-3 in a shootout.
Montreal needed three third-period goals for a 4-3 victory in the most recent meeting March 9, and blew a 3-0 lead Feb. 12 before prevailing in a shootout.
Max Pacioretty has six goals and four assists in his last eight meetings with the Lightning, and Brian Gionta has three goals and two assists in his past five hockey games.
According to the NHL point spread, Montreal hasn’t dropped four in a row since March 24-31.