A fight to the finish

Thursday, 13.03.2008 / 12:38 PM / News
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A fight to the finish
There won't be no shortage of intensity on any night the Canadiens and Senators collide.
MONTREAL – The battle for the Northeast Division crown has only just begun. 

With two points separating them in the standings and 11 games left on their respective schedules, including three head-to-head matchups, the Senators and Canadiens will be seeing a lot of each other over the next several weeks.

While the Habs have been looking down at the Sens from atop the Northeast division of late, Ottawa has had the upper hand against Guy Carbonneau’s crew this season, winning four of five games.

“It hasn’t been easy this year, but we know we can play with these guys,” vowed Tomas Plekanec. “We’ve shown lately that we can compete with any team in the league and we’ll have to be ready tonight.”

Facing Ottawa has been anything but a picnic this season for the Canadiens. Their last meeting was a forgettable 6-1 loss in Ottawa on Feb. 9 that saw the line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza explode for 15 points.

“You always have to show a team like this respect,” admitted Josh Gorges. “But I think we’ve been guilty of showing them a little too much respect before and it hurt us. You can’t give these guys too much room because they can burn you. No one in this dressing room needs to be reminded of what happened the last time we played them. If anything, that’s just extra motivation to come out strong tonight.”

With Alfredsson expected to miss his fifth straight game, the Sens' big line might be a two-man show tonight. While that’s good news for the Canadiens, no one in the room is expecting an easy night.

“Alfredsson is a key guy for them, but they’ve played well without him the last few games,” warned Michael Ryder. “Taking these guys lightly would be a huge mistake.”

Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com