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Jonathan Drouin leads Montreal heading into game against Lightning

Also, Tampa Bay’s practice picks up in intensity after a day off ... and a lackluster showing on Saturday.

MONTREAL — There’s a familiar face leading the way in Montreal. Jonathan Drouin has a point in each of the five games the Canadiens have played.

This is the kind of player the Lightning thought they were drafting third overall in 2013 and that Montreal traded Mikhail Sergachev for in 2017.

Drouin recorded a goal and an assist to help the Canadiens past St. Louis 6-3 on Saturday, while the Lightning rolled into town licking their wounds.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: The black jerseys are back starting Saturday

“He’s a talented player,” coach Jon Cooper said. “We got him when he was really, really young. He’s had to grow as a player on and off the ice and from everything I’ve heard, he really has.”

After Saturday’s game, Canadiens coach Claude Julien told reporters that Drouin is playing the best hockey of his three years with the team. Drouin only has one assist in eight career games against the Lightning.

Brendan Gallagher sits with Drouin atop the Canadiens with six points (identical two-goal, four-assist stat lines). He’s also been the team’s most productive player against the Lightning with five goals and six assists in 26 games.

Montreal has started the season 2-1-2, one overtime loss above the Lightning in the Atlantic Division standings.

A little extra

Flat and outworked are not words the Lightning want to be associate with. They know they need to pick up the intensity from the loss to Ottawa and Monday’s practice reflected that.

The team did two-on-two and three-on-three drills in close proximity, and the power play got extra work at the end of practice. And this came after an off-ice workout.

Related: MORE LIGHTNING: Curtis McElhinney has played well in net, but he isn't getting support

Cooper said the intense practice was more of a reaction to the day off Sunday than Saturday’s showing.

“We had a day off,” he said “I think we needed a little bit of awakening with some of our compete. Especially with these little breaks in between games, you have to get the guys back engaged.”

Guys needed to get more engaged in Saturday’s game as well. So, really, it works both ways.

Drills featuring battles in smaller areas (in the case of the three-on-three, an arc from the top of the left circle to just past the net) increase the intensity of a practice. Sometimes, the team will keep score and the losers skate.


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