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TAMPA — As a member of the Dallas Stars, Corey Perry remembers all too well how it felt watching the Lightning celebrate their Stanley Cup championship on the ice in September in the Edmonton bubble.
But now Perry has another shot at the Lightning with the Canadiens.
Perry, who signed with Montreal as a free agent in the offseason, said he won’t be out for revenge when the Cup final gets underway Monday in Tampa as much as he’ll be looking forward to the test of playing against “a heck of a hockey team.”
“It’s a little different this year, obviously being here in Montreal,” Perry said. “It’s going to be a good test for us, but we’re up for the challenge. Personally, I don’t think there’s revenge or anything. It’s a different year. It’s a different team. It’s a new test. (We’ll) see what happens.”
After last season’s championship series, Perry is all too familiar with the Lightning’s skilled lineup.
“You can start with their goalie (Andrei Vasilevskiy), he’s a world-class goalie,” Perry said. “And then (they) probably have one of the top defensemen in the league in (Victor) Hedman and the list goes on, (Nikita) Kucherov, (Steven) Stamkos, you know, you can talk about them all day long.”
The Lightning added “grit” at last season’s trade deadline in third-line forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. The duo, along with center Yanni Gourde, has “kind of taken off,” Perry said.
With all that talent, Perry understands the importance for the Canadiens of staying out of the penalty box.
The Lightning have the second-best power play in the league, scoring on 37.7 percent (20 of 53) of their opportunities with the man-advantage. The Canadiens are seventh at 20.9 percent (9 of 43).
“Everyone knows what their power play’s like and how they can move the puck and the different options they have,” Perry said. “That’s one way of limiting their chances, but you have to play well defensively.”
Perry, who has nine points (three goals and six assists) in 17 postseason games, said it’s “no different than (playing) 95 percent of the other teams in the league.”
“Each night, you just have to be on your toes and ready to play,” he said. “You take a shift off, that could be the difference in that game. We have to be ready for Game 1 when the puck drops and go from there.”
Perry said the Canadiens are conceding nothing to the Lightning. After all, they are in pursuit of a championship, too.
“We’re here for a reason, they’re there for a reason,” the Montreal forward said. “And it’s going to be a good series.”
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