Clues Posted January 7, 2012 Report Share Posted January 7, 2012 Saturday, January 7th, 2012. 7:00pm CBC, RDS Habs hope to have Gionta back as they face Lightning Lightning (17-19-3) at Canadiens (15-18-7) Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-4-1); Montreal (3-7-0) Season series: Second of four meetings. The teams met Dec. 29 in Tampa Bay and the Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit for a 4-3 victory, as former Canadiens defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and Quebec native Vincent Lecavalier scored in the third period to complete the comeback. Big story: Montreal captain Brian Gionta is targeting Saturday's game as his return date after missing the last 11 with a lower-body injury. He scored 57 goals over his first two seasons with the Canadiens, and had 8 goals in 29 games this season. It will be Gionta's first game playing under interim coach Randy Cunneyworth. "I'm really anxious to get back," Gionta told the team's website following practice Friday. "I still have to talk to the trainers but I definitely felt good out there today. Obviously the injury was a little worse than we had thought at first -- it's just one of those things you have to take care of, but there's still half the season left and it'll be a good time to come back. "This is our time to make a big push. This time of the year usually decides whether you're going to be in contention or not at the end of the season." Team Scope: Lightning: The new year hasn't been kind to Tampa Bay at the outset. The Lightning have been outscored 11-4 in losses to the Maple Leafs and Senators. This marks the conclusion of a three-game road trip. Steven Stamkos scored the team's only goal Thursday in Ottawa, cutting a two-goal deficit in half. But the Senators added an insurance goal and an empty-netter to deal the Bolts a 4-1 defeat. "It's a tough one to swallow," Stamkos said in the Tampa Bay Times. "It's frustrating even more so when you do play well and don't get the result." Canadiens: For the second time in four games, Montreal set its season high in goals Wednesday against Winnipeg. The Canadiens responded to giving up the opening score by going on to rout the Jets, 7-3, as second-year forward Lars Eller doubled his goal output for the season. Eller had already scored once as the Habs entered the third period with a 3-2 lead; he proceeded not only to complete the hat trick, but add a fourth goal off a spin-o-rama on a penalty shot. "It was an extremely exciting night for Lars," said teammate Michael Cammalleri, who scored between Eller's second and third goals as Montreal tallied three goals in 50 seconds. "We're very happy for him. This will be one he'll remember forever, probably one of the highlights of his lifetime. "It would be for any of us, so it was pretty, pretty cool." Who's hot: Stamkos extended his goal-scoring streak to five games for the Lightning. He has 8 goals over that span and 12 goals in his last 10 games for an NHL-leading total of 28 for the season. … Erik Cole has 3 goals and 3 assists during a four-game points streak for the Canadiens. Cammalleri has 3 goals in his last four games. Injury report: Tampa Bay lost forwards Adam Hall and JT Wyman to upper-body injuries against Ottawa. Hall is out indefinitely and Wyman is day-to-day. Forward Ryan Malone skated Friday and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Victor Hedman is out indefinitely with a concussion. Forward Ryan Shannon is out for several weeks with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund has missed the entire season with a knee injury. … Gionta's return would leave forward Scott Gomez (groin) and defenseman Andrei Markov (knee) as the key Montreal players remaining on injured reserve. Stat pack: Lightning defenseman Brendan Mikkelson, acquired Friday in a trade with the Flames, has 6 assists in 86 career games with Calgary and Anaheim. … Tomas Kaberle has 1 goal and 8 points in 11 games for the Canadiens after failing to score a goal and posting 9 assists in 29 games this season for the Hurricanes. Puck drop: Tampa Bay picked up Mikkelson to help its defensive corps, but the return of Brett Connolly from the World Junior Championship also comes at a good time with the recent injuries up front. Connolly had 5 goals in six games as Team Canada took home bronze at this year's tournament. Player Stats Team Stats Casualties of practice BROSSARD – The Canadiens’ Friday morning practice didn’t end on the best note for Alexei Emelin. Scary moment: The Habs had a tense moment at the end of their Friday morning skate, when during one of the practice's final drills, an errant puck caught defenseman Alexei Emelin in the face, dropping him to the ice. After a few minutes of being tended to by the Canadiens medical staff as Andrei Kostitsyn played translator, Emelin was helped to the dressing room, the side of his face rapidly swelling. "He took a puck high and we're hoping that it's not serious. He’s a little bit swollen right now," explained head coach Randy Cunneyworth after practice. While he made it clear that he was still waiting to receive further information on the Russian rearguard's condition, he offered up as much initial information as possible. "If he had to take one, I think that it at least caught him in a bit of a meaty area, rather than right on the bone. So as I said, there's swelling but he also seems to be in good spirits and smiling now," continued Cunneyworth. "So we'll see how he's doing tomorrow after tending to it with some ice. He wasn't cut externally, but there was some bleeding from the inside of his mouth. He's an extremely tough guy, so you can bet if he can play, you'll see him out there." Back at the helm: With Brian Gionta looking at Saturday night's tilt against the Lightning as his likely return to the lineup, the Canadiens couldn't have asked for a better time to get their captain back. Looking to stay undefeated in 2012, the Habs will hope that Gionta's presence in the room and on the ice can help them stabilize their top lines and keep their momentum rolling against Tampa Bay. "This has been a tough two or three weeks for us – a lot of things went on and it was hard having to watch that from the outside. I’m really anxious to get back," said Gionta, the Canadiens leading goal scorer for the last two seasons with 28 goals in 2009-10 and another 29 in 2010-11. "I still have to talk to the trainers but I definitely felt good out there today. Obviously the injury was a little worse than we had thought at first – it's just one of those things you have to take care of, but there’s still half the season left and it’ll be a good time to come back. "This is our time to make a big push," added Gionta. "This time of the year usually decides whether you're going to be in contention or not at the end of the season." Through the mask: Even though Lars Eller's spin-o-rama penalty shot came and went two days ago, talk of it was still popping up around the Canadiens dressing room Friday morning. Offering a different perspective on the goal, Habs' netminder, Peter Budaj couldn’t help but admit he felt a little bit bad for the Jets' Chris Mason. "It's never an easy thing for a goaltender when someone pulls a rabbit like that out of their hat on you," expressed Budaj. "It takes a lot of confidence to try that move. If you can successfully make a deke like that, in situation that situation, towards the end of a game when the ice isn't great – then congratulations. I feel a kind of bad for the other goalie, but we won and that's all that matters. We’re a family here before anything else." The 29-year-old goaltender also made sure to point out that it's not always the shooter that comes out on top in similar situations. "At the beginning of the season, Stamkos tried the same thing on Jose Theodore," recalled Budaj. "Jose made the save. Then he sort of gestured toward Stamkos as if to say, 'Did you really think that was going to work?'." Lines at practice: Gionta-Plekanec-Cammalleri Moen-Eller-Kostitsyn Blunden-Nokelainen-Darche Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole go Habs go! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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