Senators return home, welcome in Canadiens
CANADIENS (14-14-2) at SENATORS (14-10-4)
Montreal 5-3-2; Ottawa 5-4-1
Second of six meetings this season. Ottawa was a 3-1 winner in Montreal back on Oct. 17, with Chris Neil, Daniel Alfredsson and Alex Kovalev scoring goals for the Senators and Mike Cammalleri
netting the lone marker for the Canadiens. The story of the night was Kovalev making the most of his return to the Bell Centre after he played for over four seasons in Montreal.
It took Ottawa until the last night of a five-game road trip to pick up its first victory, but the Senators can put that behind them now that they are back home, where their 10-3-3 record is the best in the Eastern Conference.
"This is kind of an end to the first chapter of the year, getting this road trip over with," goaltender Brian Elliott said. "Now we're going back home and we're going to be playing a lot of games every other night, so it's going to be another big test."
It wasn't anywhere near as exciting as the rout of Boston that followed the 100th anniversary celebration Saturday, but Montreal's 3-1 win over Philadelphia on Monday was just as important, getting the Canadiens back to .500 for the season. They took just 13 shots on goal, but Andrei Kostitsyn
, Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron all found the back of the net.
"I think our last two games we've played our best defensive hockey of the year," said goalie Carey Price
, who faced only 15 shots by the Flyers.
In order to earn its first road win since late October, Ottawa had to withstand three rapid-fire comebacks by Anaheim on Sunday. The Senators saw a couple first-period leads erased by the Ducks in just 15 and 31 seconds, respectively. Filip Kuba put the visitors back in front early in the third, but Corey Perry answered that goal 50 seconds later. Ottawa finally prevailed 4-3 via the shootout, with Alfredsson netting the decisive goal.
"I thought our guys showed a lot of resilience," coach Cory Clouston said. "All three times we scored, they scored the next shift. Sometimes that can be very deflating, but I liked our character."
For the Canadiens, Cammalleri has four goals in two games after a hat trick against the Bruins. Kostitsyn has a goal and five assists in his last six games. Price has a .962 save percentage in winning consecutive starts, stopping 51 of 53 shots.
The Senators would like to get Jason Spezza going and hope his power-play goal (just his third tally of the season) and assist against the Ducks is a positive sign.
Montreal is without defenseman Andrei Markov
(ankle), forward Brian Gionta
(broken foot) and forward Benoit Pouliot
Ottawa goalie Pascal Leclaire, who won the last game against Montreal, remains sidelined with a broken jaw. Neil is also out indefinitely with a knee injury, as is fellow forward Shean Donovan. Defenseman Alexandre Picard is battling an upper-body injury, but could play.
Elliott is 4-0-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average at Scotiabank Place this season. Ottawa averages 3.3 goals per game on home ice, almost a full goal better than its output on the road.
Montreal coach Jacques Martin will be making his return to Ottawa after coaching the Senators from 1996-2004. The Senators' first eight playoff appearances came under his reign, and in 2002-03 he led them to the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular-season team.
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