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NHL: 3 things to know for Monday night

03/16/2015 12:12 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT
There are two contrasting battles to keep an eye on in the NHL on Monday night. The Canadiens and the Lightning meet in Tampa Bay in a fight for top spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Leafs and the Oilers collide in a struggle between bottom-feeders.

Here are the storylines to watch:

​Canadiens look to bottle Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning (42-21-7) have an opportunity to do something no other National Hockey League team can claim — sweep their four-game season series against the Montreal Canadiens (43-19-7).

What makes this domination even more strange is that Montreal leads Tampa by two points in the fight for Atlantic Division bragging rights despite dropping the three previous meetings and being outscored 12-3.

The latest example was Tuesday when the Lightning triumphed 1-0 in Montreal on Tyler Johnson's overtime goal. That followed up earlier wins in January (4-2 in Montreal) and October (7-1 in Tampa).

Carey Price stopped 35 of 36 shots for the Canadiens in their last meeting but just hasn't been able to beat the Lightning, while Ben Bishop in the Tampa Bay goal has backstopped all three victories.

Montreal won a hard-fought game Saturday, 3-1 over the New York Islanders, to halt a two-game slide. Max Pacioretty, as he has so often done, had a key goal, shorthanded, for what proved to be the game-winner.

Tampa Bay has dropped two straight since defeating the Canadiens. The latest was a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. However, that was only their third defeat at home in 20 starts.

Leafs in another road funk

Two games into a western road trip, the Toronto Maple Leafs (27-37-6) continue to plumb new depths. Friday they were doubled up by the Flames 6-3 in Calgary and were pretty much never in the follow-up game in Vancouver Saturday, falling 4-1.

That loss left the Leafs with just one win in their last 20 road starts as they head into Edmonton (18-39-12).

They had two encouraging signs in their latest setback. Jonathan Bernier played a strong game in goal, stopping 31 of 34 shots, and Phil Kessel showed he hasn't forgotten how to score, counting on a penalty shot for his first road goal of the calendar year.

Nazem Khadri returned against the Canucks from his three-game team-imposed suspension for disciplinary reasons but wasn't a factor.

Perhaps the Leafs will be inspired when facing Edmonton, because neither Bernier (3-0-0) nor James Reimer (4-0-0) have ever lost against the Oilers. The Leafs won 5-1 in Toronto on Feb. 7 in the only meeting this season. 

Oilers find bright spot

​Alright, so the Oilers dropped their only decision against Toronto and they've just returned from a five-game road trip where they went winless (earning two points in shootout losses) to stretch their losing streak to seven games. What's the upside?

The power play. Since the All-Star break, the Oilers are No. 1 in the NHL in power play percentage, clicking at 28.1 percent. (The Leafs are last at 11.7). In their last four games the Oilers have knocked in eight power-play goals in 17 opportunities. In their 5-4 shootout loss to Columbus on Friday, they scored twice with the man advantage, including the 21st goal of the season by Jordan Eberle.

The Oilers aren't likely to catch the Leafs in the standings this season (Edmonton has 48 points to Toronto's 60), but that may be preferable as the NHL's non-playoff teams eye the draft lottery with the hope of landing the top pick and, presumably, OHL phenom Connor McDavid. Last-place Buffalo (44 points, one fewer game played than the Oilers) currently has the best odds, followed by Edmonton, Arizona and Toronto.

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