NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 10th (All times eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (32-27-6) at Montreal Canadiens (35-24-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens may be coming off one of their better showings in recent memory, but that still couldn't save the fate of the team's head coach.
Bob Gainey takes over for the fired Guy Carbonneau behind the bench when the embattled Habs begin a four-game homestand with tonight's clash with the Edmonton Oilers.
Carbonneau was relieved of his duties Monday in the latest startling event of what's been a tumultuous season for Montreal, with general manager Gainey taking over on a short-term basis. The change comes with the Canadiens tied for fifth place in the competitive Eastern Conference playoff race, but only one point ahead of three teams (Florida, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh) currently deadlocked for the No. 7 seed.
Montreal struggled mightily through much of February but seemed to be on an upswing as of late, as Sunday's 3-1 road victory over Dallas in Carbonneau's swan song was the team's fifth win in its last seven outings.
Carbonneau, a former captain for the Canadiens who spent 12 seasons as a player with the organization, was hired by Gainey prior to the start of the 2006-07 campaign and produced a 124-83-23 record in two-plus seasons. Montreal had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season but wound up losing to Philadelphia in the semifinal round in five games.
Gainey, who served as Montreal's interim coach for 41 games in 2005-06, will have some momentum in his return to that role. Goaltender Carey Price stopped 30-of-31 shots against the Stars to end a personal seven-game losing streak, while Alex Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn and Christopher Higgins all had goals in the much-needed win.
Prior to Sunday's triumph, the Canadiens had been outscored by a 7-1 margin in road defeats to Buffalo and Atlanta.
Edmonton concludes a four-game road trip this evening and dropped the first two tests of the swing before overtaking Toronto on Saturday. Dwayne Roloson, making a franchise-record 21st straight start at goaltender for the Oilers, turned aside 39-of-40 shots to lead his team to a 4-1 decision over the Maple Leafs.
Kyle Brodziak gave Edmonton all the offense it would need with a pair of goals, with Ales Hemsky and Fernando Pisani also lighting the lamp to help the Oilers improve to 1-1-1 on the current swing.
Like the Canadiens, the Oilers are in a heated battle for a playoff spot as well. The team enters tonight's tilt tied with Dallas and Nashville for the final two postseason slots in the Western Conference.
Edmonton will be hoping for a similar result of last month's encounter with the Canadiens, in which the Oilers battered Price for four first-period goals en route to a 7-2 home rout. This will be Edmonton's first visit to the Bell Centre since a 3-2 shootout loss to the Habs on November 7, 2006.
03/10 10:37:27 ET