Important game in the NHL’s Eastern Conference on Saturday night when Montreal and Tampa Bay face off in Florida. The Canadiens are trying to hang on to the top spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Lightning are in a dogfight for the final wild-card spot. The Bolts figure to be slight home NHL lines favroties here.
Montreal at Tampa Bay NHL Pick, Prediction & TV Info
When: Saturday, April 1, 7 PM ET
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
TV: SUN, NHL Center Ice
Opening NHL Lines: TBA
Why Bet on the Canadiens?
Presumably, top Canadiens goalie Carey Price will start here, but Coach Claude Julien does not want Price to play in all of Montreal’s remaining games, so Charlie Lindgren could see some playing time if Al Montoya isn’t ready to return from a lower-body injury. He is listed as day-to- day so Lindgren was called up. Price entered Thursday’s game at Florida with a 35-18- 5 record with a 2.23 goals-against- average and a .924 save percentage this season.
Price has been a little streaky throughout the season, but since the hiring of Julien, Price has put up a record of 11-4- 0, with a 1.58 GAA and a save percentage of .942, which makes him the third best goaltender since February 14. (behind Sergei Bobrovsky and John Gibson).
The Habs got some great news Tuesday as Alexander Radulov scored his first goal since Feb. 27. He contributed just two assists during that nine-game goalless span. It was a good night for his line, contributing four points — including two goals — after a stretch in which the top unit struggled while secondary scoring picked up the slack. Despite his recent struggles, Radulov is one point away from hitting the 50-point plateau for the second time in his NHL career.
Montreal will be returning to the playoffs after a disastrous 2015-16 season, but Brendan Gallagher said he was confident that the Canadiens would turn things around.
“Last year was a year when a lot of things went wrong and we didn’t handle it well, but we learned from that,” said Gallagher. “We went through a lot of the same things this year, but those experiences helped us out. Last year, we deserved what we got, obviously the hockey we were playing wasn’t going to get us into the playoffs. That was the disappointing part, we let a lot of things affect the way we were playing.”
Why Bet on the Lightning?
The Bolts are banged up as they try to make a playoff push in the season’s final games. Winger Tyler Johnson (lower body) joined the Lightning for Thursday’s morning skate. He doesn’t have a specific return date, but he’s hoping to return before the end of the regular season. He has been out since March 9.
“The way the injury was, I really didn’t think it was going to be what it was,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately it’s taking a lot longer than the initial prognosis was. But it;ss not the worst-case scenario, so you’ve got to look at the best things.”
Steven Stamkos (knee) took part in Thursday’s morning skate and might return on Saturday. His return would be huge. Stamkos has yet to be activated off injured reserve, but being described as day-to- day is the closest sign yet that he’s almost ready. The 27-year- old, who hasn’t played since mid-November, should offer an instant boost to Tampa Bay’s offense.
“Sitting here three weeks ago, maybe not thinking it’d feel this good. I’m very optimistic about being able to get where I need to be to hopefully sooner rather than later,” Stamkos said. Cedric Paquette may have suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury. “Ceddy’s got one of those tough injuries where progress is made and you hit a little bit of a wall,” coach Jon Cooper said. “So we’ve got to wait and see on him.”
Leading the Lightning to a 7-3- 0 record over their last 10, Nikita Kucherov compiled 10 goals and seven assists in that span. He now sits sixth in NHL scoring, and is second in goals with 38, three less than the league leader Sidney Crosby. One of the main reasons for Kucherov’s coming out party is the absence of Stamkos and Johnson. All the scoring has fallen on Kucherov, and he has welcomed it.
Montreal at Tampa Bay Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Habs and Bolts have split two meetings this season and will play once more after this. Lightning need it more.