Habs welcome coach Ducharme back for Game 3, Lightning's Alex Killorn to sit out

The Canadiens will play their first Stanley Cup final in Montreal since June 1993 as they face off Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3.

The team will also welcome back interim head coach Dominique Ducharme, who has been absent for six games after testing positive for COVID-19.

"It hasn't been easy. I love my job and I love this group of players and our staff," he said. "We work well together. It's been hard to get it all out. Sometimes, you have control over things and sometimes you don't. You have to do the best you can."

"I've been looking forward to coming back for a few days now and when I was told it would be July 2, I was looking at that date and I was really looking forward to it. I'm really happy to be here with the staff, the players and everyone to continue this battle."

Defenceman Ben Chiarot says he was very happy to see Ducharme on the ice Friday morning.

"It's nice to have your head coach back, to hear a familiar voice in meetings and on the ice. The captain is back to steer the ship," he said.

Forward Tyler Toffoli insists assistant coach Luke Richardson has done "a good job" in Ducharme's absence, but he and his teammates are happy to have the Quebecer behind the bench for Game 3.

"We're excited to be playing at home, he (Ducharme) is excited to be back and the most important thing right now is to get the win," said Toffoli.

The Habs made no changes to their lineup in the morning warm-up session at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

"We've played pretty much the same lineup for the entire playoffs, so I don't think it's time to change the formula," Toffoli added.

KILLORN REMAINS ON THE INJURED LIST

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper confirmed Friday that forward Alex Killorn will not be in uniform for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

Killorn travelled with the team to Montreal after appearing to suffer an injury when he blocked a Jeff Petry shot in the second period of Game 1 of the series.

Nevertheless, Cooper says his lineup will be the same as in Game 2. That means Quebec's Mathieu Joseph will play a second straight game.

Joseph, who joined the line with Ross Colton and Pat Maroon in the Lightning's 3-1 win on Wednesday, had one shot on net, four checks and 6:23 of playing time.

It was his first game since May 20 against the Florida Panthers.

Cooper says he plans to give him a bigger role this time around, on enemy ice.

"It's been a while since he's played," said Cooper. "When you don't play much after the season ends, you have to be ready. That was the case with Aleksandr Volkov last year, who was on the bubble for 64 days before the last game of the finals and he made quite an impact. You never know when your name is going to come up."

"Jo didn't play much in the last game. I hope to give him more playing time tonight, but he uses his speed well and can push the opposition's defence around. Jo has talent and I expect him to have a bigger impact on the game tonight."

The Lightning lead the Stanley Cup final series 2-0 over the Canadiens. The puck drops at 8 p.m. Friday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 2, 2021. 

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