The Lightning were very active well before Monday's trade deadline, dealing away forward Dominic Moore, defenseman Pavel Kubina and winger Steve Downie over a six-day span. Tampa capped the trading spree last Tuesday with the Downie deal, moving him to Colorado for blueliner Kyle Quincey and then flipping Quincey to Detroit for a prospect and draft pick.
The Bolts didn't sit idle on Monday either, pulling off three separate trades that involved defenseman. They began the day by getting veteran Mike Commodore from Detroit for a late 2013 draft pick, swapped winger and former first-round pick Carter Ashton for 22-year-old Toronto blueliner Keith Aulie and then exchanged defenseman Matt Gilroy for fellow rearguard Brian Lee from Ottawa.
"Defensemen are hard to find. We're looking for young guys, and for guys whose contracts are appropriate," said Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.
The 24-year-old Lee and Commodore could both debut this evening, while Yzerman said on Monday that it may take a few days to get Aulie a visa. The new defenders give head coach Guy Boucher options if Victor Hedman misses a second game in a row with an upper-body injury.
Tampa Bay hopes its new look can get it into the playoff picture. The Lightning have won four of six and enter play tonight six points back of a postseason position.
They salvaged the finale of a three-game swing on Sunday, getting a hat trick and assist from Martin St. Louis in a 4-3 win over the Devils. St. Louis notched the sixth three-goal game of his career and also helped to set up a goal by Gilroy.
St. Louis' four-point effort came one day after the Lightning allowed the Penguins' Evgeni Malkin to log four points in an 8-1 defeat at Pittsburgh.
"After looking at yesterday's results, the scoring chances yesterday were 25-16 for us," said Boucher. "...Did we really get our butts kicked? No. Did it really not turn for us yesterday? Yes."
Teddy Purcell finished with three assists to extend his career-high point streak to six straight games. Purcell has four goals and nine assists in that span and has posted a point in 10 of his past 11 games.
The Canadiens probably have an eye towards next year as they come into this encounter last in the Eastern Conference with 58 points, 10 back of a postseason spot. That led to them dealing forward Andrei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators on Monday for a pair of draft picks, including a 2013 second-rounder.
Montreal also added some toughness by claiming forward Brad Staubitz off waivers from the Wild.
Staubitz's edge could help the Canadiens avoid a fifth straight defeat this evening as Montreal's losing streak was extended with Sunday's 4-2 loss in Florida. David Desharnais and P.K. Subban both scored just 6:55 into the contest, but the Panthers rallied for four unanswered goals.
Backup Peter Budaj made 28 saves in defeat, Montreal's sixth in seven games.
"This losing streak is not easy on anybody," Montreal coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "The one thing you have to do is have a little pride and you have to keep working hard. You have to pull together."
The Habs have won three of their last four over the Lightning, including a 3-1 home win when the clubs last met on Jan. 7, but have picked up just two victories in their last six trips to Tampa.