Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres (-135, 5.5)
Tampa Bay has a score to settle with Buffalo, as these two teams faced each other on Feb. 8 and the host Lightning got hammered 7-4.
They should have a good chance of avenging that loss on Tuesday in Buffalo. Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson allowed seven goals in just 28 shots in the last meeting, but he is heating up heading into the playoffs. Roloson has allowed a total of four goals in his last three outings (all victories).
The Lightning, not coincidentally, have won five in a row and are coming off a 2-0 shutout of Chicago on Sunday. They clinched a playoff spot after last Thursday’s win over Pittsburgh and have climbed to within four points of Washington in the Southeast Division.
Buffalo is hanging tough in the race, currently seventh in the Eastern Conference with 90 points. The team has alternated wins and losses over its last five, although it has won five of its last seven.
The Sabres could be without top goalie Ryan Miller, who missed Sunday’s win over Carolina and is questionable with an upper body injury. Right wing Mike Grier (knee) and center Jochen Hecht (upper body) are also questionable.
Chicago Blackhawks at Montreal Canadiens (-110, 5.5)
A recent swoon has taken Montreal from a borderline playoff lock to a team fighting for its postseason life in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens bounced back on Sunday with a 3-1 victory at New Jersey, but they have still lost four of their last six games.
And nobody is happy about it.
“We just were not ready mentally,” defenseman Roman Hamrlik said after last Wednesday's 6-2 loss at Carolina. “I don't think we competed, and they outworked us tonight.”
A few teammates took offense to that comment, and they are also in an uproar over former Canadien and new media member Georges Laraque saying that head coach Jacques Martin “has lost the room.”
One team that definitely won’t be hitting the panic button in the midst of a heated playoff race is Chicago, which sits in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Calgary.
The Blackhawks have dropped three of their last five, but this is a contest in which the experience of winning the Stanley Cup last year could be a major factor.
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