Game preview: MTL vs. OTT
CANADIENS (24-14-4) vs. SENATORS (18-18-7)
Holding court at home for the first time in 2014, the Canadiens will look for a win at the Bell Centre against the Ottawa Senators.
On Thursday, the Habs got four points apiece from Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban in a 6-4 road victory against the Dallas Stars. For the first time this season, the team was able to bail out their goaltender with abundant goal support. Indeed, the win marked the first occasion in 2013-14 when Carey Price got the win despite posting a saves percentage under .900 (28 saves on 32 shots against). Lars Eller had the game-winning goal midway through the third period, while Brendan Gallagher and David Desharnais had two points each. Tyler Seguin led the Stars with a goal and an assist, but was also -3 in the loss.
Meanwhile, the Senators also started off the New Year on the right foot by beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 at the Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday night. Mika Zibanejad scored his tenth of the season to open the scoring and Clarke MacArthur potted his thirteenth with nine minutes remaining in the game to assure Ottawa of the victory. Goaltender Craig Anderson made 32 saves on 35 shots for the win.
While Ottawa has been getting plenty of goals from a defensive unit led by former Norris winner and leading scorer Erik Karlsson, the team has struggled to keep the puck out of its own net. The Senators currently rank 7th in the league in goals for (122) but only 28th in goals against (138). In contrast, Montreal ranks 20th across the NHL in team offence (109 goals for) and 6th in team defence (98 goals against).
Ryan White suffered an upper-body injury against Dallas and is not expected to play, meaning that Daniel Briere will return to the lineup.
Alexei Emelin draws in for Raphael Diaz on defense, while Carey Price will start in net.
Saturday’s game will be the second of four between the clubs this season. On November 7 2013, Bobby Ryan had three points for the Senators in a 4-1 Ottawa victory. However, Montreal has won the last four regular season matchups at the Bell Centre.