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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, February 12th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (29-18-9) at Tampa Bay Lightning (23-27-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to avoid their first three- game losing streak in over two months when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Canadiens are coming off losses to Toronto and Ottawa and are in danger of losing three in a row for the first time since November 30-December 4.

Montreal's most recent setback came Saturday against the Senators, who the Habs are chasing for first place in the Northeast Division. Ottawa slammed the visiting Canadiens by a 6-1 score and the Sens head into today's action with a five-point edge over Montreal for first place.

Jason Spezza scored his first career hat trick, and tacked on three assists, to lead the Sens to the blowout win at Scotiabank Place.

Andrei Kostitsyn had the only goal for Montreal. Starter Cristobal Huet gave up three goals on four shots before being lifted for Carey Price, who stopped 22 shots in a losing effort.

Tonight's test marks the middle portion of a three-game homestand for the Canadiens, who have an impressive 17-8-4 record as the host club this season. Montreal will end the swing Wednesday night at Florida.

In other news, a pair of Montreal players have landed themselves in legal trouble as defenseman Ryan O'Byrne and forward Tom Kostopoulos were arrested outside a Tampa nightclub early Monday morning. O'Byrne was charged with grand theft for allegedly swiping an unidentified woman's purse, and Kostopoulos was charged with resisting an officer without violence. Both players were released on bail.

The Lightning had a two-game win streak halted their last time out, as they were handed a close loss in Atlanta on Saturday. Alexei Zhitnik scored 1:26 into overtime to lead the Thrashers to the 2-1 win at Philips Arena.

In overtime, Zhitnik faked a shot, went wide on Tampa Bay defenseman Filip Kuba, who had broken his stick, and beat Johan Holmqvist with a wrister high on the short side.

Vincent Lecavalier found the net for the Lightning, who also had a six-game road winning streak snapped. Tampa Bay fell one win shy of matching the longest road winning streak in franchise history, which was set from January 7 to February 1, 2007.

Holmqvist allowed two goals on 22 shots for the Lightning, who are last in the Eastern Conference with 52 points.

Tampa Bay is 14-13-2 as the host club this season, but has lost three of its last four contests at the Forum.

The Canadiens have won two of the three meetings with Tampa Bay this year, five of seven and eight of the last 11 encounters overall. Montreal has also taken four of its previous five contests at the Forum.

02/12 10:48:17 ET

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