When the Tampa Bay Lightning take the ice Tuesday night in Montreal, their leading scorer will likely be fresh out of surgery.
With Steven Stamkos sidelined indefinitely with a broken leg, the Lightning will face the Canadiens in the first of many games without their star forward.
Stamkos broke his right tibia in the second period of Monday's 3-0 loss at Boston and is expected to undergo surgery Tuesday morning.
He's played in 358 consecutive games for the Lightning dating to his 2008-09 rookie season, scoring 222 of the team's 1,025 goals in that span, and has missed just three games in his career.
Stamkos scored seven goals in six games prior to Monday and is tied for the league lead with 14 goals and 23 points.
"Injuries happen. He's gone a long time in his career without being seriously hurt," coach Jon Cooper said. "There's no sugarcoating it. He's a huge part of our team. You can make an argument here that if you were going to hand out the MVP in our league now, you can give it to him. Is that a hole in our team? Yes, it is."
The Lightning (12-5-0) saw a four-game winning streak come to an end and were shut out for the second time this season - both against the Bruins.
"We just couldn't get the puck in the net," forward Martin St. Louis said. "We really can't think about (Stamkos' injury) now. We've got a game to play (Tuesday). We're going to be playing a lot of hockey."
The loss included an 0-for-4 day on the power play. After starting the season 12 for 48, the Lightning are without a goal in their last 17 power-play chances.
They are one of eight teams in the league averaging better than three goals per game at 3.06, and Stamkos has scored more than a quarter of their 52 goals.
The Canadiens (9-8-1) snapped an 0-3-1 stretch with Sunday's 4-2 home win over the New York Islanders. Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk led the way with a goal and two assists each.
"When you're losing and you want to help the team by scoring, it takes a toll on you," said Eller, who had two assists in the previous 12 games. "But there was never any panic. In a lot of the games we played well and were creating chances. The puck just wasn't going in. Today it did and it was nice to get a win."
The Canadiens went 2 for 5 on the power play, bumping their percentage to 24.6, which is second in the league. They'd gone seven games without scoring four times, managing 11 goals in that span.
Montreal has been one of the better defensive teams in the league and is fourth in goals against at 2.17 per game.
The Canadiens have also enjoyed a recent run of success against the Lightning. They've won four straight in the series and are 5-0-1 in the last six at home.
Montreal won 3-2 at home in the last meeting April 18. Brian Gionta scored twice to give him four goals in his last three games against the Lightning.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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