The Canadiens held their morning skate at 10:30 a.m. in Brossard as they prepared for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Judging by the lines at the morning skate, it looks like Canadiens coach Michel Therrien will go with the same lineup he used for victories in Games 1 and 2 in Tampa.
“The guys are excited about playing at home, but they understand the importance of remaining focused on the task at hand,” Therrien told reporters in Brossard after the skate.
“You don’t pick up 100 points by just being good at home or on the road alone,” the coach added. “We’ve found a good balance.”
Of the 100 points the Canadiens earned during the regular season, 51 were from home games (23-13-5) and 49 on the road (23-15-3). Only two teams in the Eastern Conference had a better road record than the Canadiens: the New York Rangers (25-14-2) and Boston Bruins (23-12-6).
Canadiens defenceman Mike Weaver, acquired from the Florida Panthers at the NHL trade deadline, told reporters he’s looking forward to playing his first playoff game at the Bell Centre.
“The regular season is already pretty exciting,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it will be like tonight.”
The Lightning skated at the Bell Centre Sunday morning with goalie Anders Lindback leaving the ice first, a sign that he will get the start for Game 3 after being pulled in Game 2.
Ondrej Palat, who missed Game 2 with an upper-body injury, was on a line with Nate Thompson and Richard Panik at the morning skate and it’s expected to be a game-time decision on whether he plays.
“Everyone thinks we’re supposed to lose,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters after Tampa’s morning skate. “Now I’m hearing done, be on the golf course by Wednesday, I’ve heard it all.
“But at some point they’re going to have to do that in front of their fans, try and knock us out. I’m sure they’ve never had a 2-0 lead on the road and come back and blown it.”
In 2011, the Canadiens won the first two games of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in Boston, then dropped Games 3 and 4 in Montreal before losing the series in seven games.
Here’s how the Canadiens’ lines and defence pairings are expected to look for Game 3:
(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)