canadiens tampa matchupUnless things go completely off the rails in the final ten games of the season the Canadiens will be playing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first playoff round.

The way the playoff format works, the two division winners face the two wild card teams in the opening round and the second and third place teams in each division play each other. Nobody’s catching Boston, so the only thing left to be decided is the home ice advantage between the Lightning and Canadiens and that may have to wait until the teams meet in Tampa April first.

Right now Tampa has a one point lead on the Canadiens with a game in hand.

Based on the season series, it should be a fascinating playoff run.  All three games to date have gone into overtime with the teams splitting 2-1 shootout wins through the first two games and Nate Thompson’s overtime goal giving Tampa a 2-1 win in the third.    A total of seven goals scored in the three games, four by Tampa.

The season series to date. @Bell Centre Nov. 12 – Tampa-2 Canadiens-1 (shootout) Filppula scored winning shootout goal. Carey Price stopped 44 of 45 shots. Ryan Malone scored for Tampa.  Daniel Briere tied it was 4:38 remaining.   @Tampa Bay Dec. 28 – Canadiens-2 Tampa-1 (shootout). Lars Eller with shootout winner. Carey Price stopped all three in the shootout. Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens.  Martin St. Louis for the Lightning.   @Bell Centre Tampa-2 Canadiens-1 (overtime). Nate Thompson’s second goal with 24 seconds left in overtime won the game. Daniel Briere forced overtime with 12:25 left in the third period. Fourth and final game @Tampa Bay April 1st.