Feb 03, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallacher (73) is checked by Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot (3) during the second period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Game #20 Preview: Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators

The Habs come into Ottawa holding a tie for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, a position that I for one never thought they had a chance to be in.

12-4-2, 1st Eastern Conference

VS

11-6-2, T-4th Eastern Conference

7:30 PM

TV: Rogers Sportsnet;    RADIO:  TEAM1200

 

HEAD TO HEAD

This is already the third meeting between the divisional rivals.  Ottawa scored a 5-1 home ice victory on Jan 30th.  Montreal returned the favour 4 days later on Super Bowl Sunday with a 2-1 win at the Bell Centre.  You may remember that game featured on of the worst calls of the season, a goaltender interference call that nullified Andre Benoit‘s tying goal.

 

LAST GAMES

The Senators are coming off an emotional 3-2 last minute victory against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, while the Habs and Carey Price shut out the Rangers 3-0 on Saturday.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Andrei Markov, MTL – All 10 of his points this season have come on the power play.  He only has 2 points in the last 12 games, since P.K. Subban returned to the Canadiens, leading me to wonder if they can co-exist in Montreal.  An alternate captian, he is the only blueliner and one of only 2 Montreal skaters to have a negative in the +/- column.

Colin Greening, OTT – The first star against  Toronto scored once and added 2 assists in the 3-2 win, scoring the winner with 24 seconds left.  Since being a healthy scratch against Toronto the week before, Greening now has 5 points in his last 4 games. And the boy can dance!

 

TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR TONIGHT’S GAME

  1. The Price is Right – Carey Price has mastered the Senators, posting a 13-5-2 record in 22 appearances against Ottawa.  He has gone 5-0-1 since allowing 6 to the Maple Leafs on Hockey Day In Canada.
  2. Grinding it Out – The Senators have won 4 straight, but it hasn’t been pretty.  They will have to continue to grind out a physical game and chip in the dirty goals to keep on winning.
  3. Payback –  The Senators were robbed of a point the last time the teams met, when Jakob Silfverberg‘s phantom goaltender interference call nullified what appeared to be Andre Benoit’s first NHL goal that would have tied the game at the the time.  The Senators will want revenge for that one.

PARTING SHOT

Look for Robin Lehner to get the start despite the solid play of Ben Bishop.  Lehner has been playing great in Binghamton and probably deserves a reward for his maturity in accepting the demotion to the AHL because of the crowded crease.  They don’t lose anything by putting him in, and it would show the kid his hard work is appreciated and the Senators do believe in him.

(UPDATE: It turns out I was wrong and Ben Bishop will Start in the Ottawa Net.)

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Tags: Andrei Markov Carey Price Colin Greening Montreal Canadiens Ottawa Senators Robin Lehner

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