Canadiens-Lightning Preview

The Associated Press

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman didn't make any moves for a goaltender, but he's hoping a retooled defensive corps can help the club make a postseason push.

The Eastern Conference-worst Montreal Canadiens appear to be looking toward next season following general manager Pierre Gauthier's deadline deals.

The Lightning go for a fourth consecutive home win Tuesday night when the Canadiens try to salvage a victory to end their three-game swing against Southeast Division opponents.

While former Canadien Mathieu Garon is 9-3-2 with a 2.67 goals-against average in his last 14 starts, the Lightning (28-28-6) could have used an upgrade between the pipes. Dwayne Roloson has won just eight times in 22 starts and owns a career-worst 3.76 GAA after giving up every goal in Saturday's 8-1 loss at Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay has a league-worst 3.37 GAA after surrendering 15 goals on its just-completed 1-2-0 trip. Yzerman, though, said there weren't any deals to improve the club at that position as Monday's trade deadline approached.

Instead, the Lightning acquired a trio of defenseman - Mike Commodore from Detroit, Brian Lee from Ottawa and Keith Aulie from Toronto.

Commodore and Lee are expected to play Tuesday, while Aulie is likely out as he sorts out visa issues.

"Defensemen are hard to find," Yzerman said. "But we were looking for young guys, looking for guys whose contracts were appropriate, so (these moves) fit with what we are trying to do."

What the Lightning are trying to do in their final 20 games is get back into the playoff picture. They are 11th in the East, just a handful of points behind eighth-place Winnipeg.

Tampa Bay opens a stretch of 10 of 12 at home against a Canadiens team that has lost six of seven.

Montreal (24-29-10) lost to Washington and Florida to begin its trip.

"This (four-game) losing streak is not easy on anybody,'' interim coach Randy Cunneyworth said following Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Panthers. "The one thing you have to do is have a little pride and you have to keep working hard.''

But that might not be enough for the Canadiens, who have an eye on the future following their recent deals.

After acquiring Blake Geoffrion, prospect Robert Slaney and a 2012 second-round pick from Nashville on Feb. 17 for veteran defenseman Hal Gill and a conditional 2013 fifth-round draft pick, Montreal picked up a second-round pick in 2013 and a conditional fifth-round selection from the Predators on Monday for right wing Andrei Kostitsyn.

"We have a number of chips to play with in order to continue growing the team in the middle and long term - but also possibly in the short term too," Gauthier said.

One of the Canadiens' short-term goals should be scoring more goals. They have four during their skid.

Geoffrion, a fourth-generation Canadien, will make his debut Tuesday, as will forward Brad Staubitz, who was claimed off waivers Monday.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos, the league leader with 43 goals, found the back of the net in the Canadiens' only visit to Tampa this season, a 4-3 Lightning victory Dec. 29. Stamkos has 13 points in the last six games.

Tampa Bay's Teddy Purcell has four goals and nine assists during a career-high six-game point streak.

Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier could miss a fifth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. He leads the club with two goals as these teams have split two games in 2011-12.

Canadiens forward Erik Cole has also found the back of the net in both matchups.

The Lightning have lost just once in regulation in Montreal's last eight visits.

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