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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, January 20th (All times eastern)

Montreal Canadiens (27-11-6) at Atlanta Thrashers (16-25-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Fresh off their most lopsided victory of the season, the Atlanta Thrashers will aim for a third straight win when they host the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Philips Arena.

The Thrashers earned their second win in a row with a 7-2 trouncing of the Predators this past Saturday in Nashville. It was just the fourth triumph in the last 12 games for Atlanta, which is currently last in the Southeast Division with 37 points.

Tonight, Atlanta will try to notch three consecutive wins for just the second time this year and for the first time since tying a franchise record with five straight victories from November 2-14.

Ilya Kovalchuk recorded a goal and added an assist as Atlanta routed the Predators at Sommet Center. Kovalchuk has five points over his last two games, notching three goals and two helpers over that span.

Bryan Little, Eric Perrin, Mathieu Schneider, Colby Armstrong and Jim Slater also tallied in the blitz. Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 shots for the win.

Zach Bogosian, the third overall pick of the 2008 draft, also recorded his first career goal for the Thrashers. Todd White added an assist to push his team-high point streak to six games. The veteran centerman has two goals and seven assists during the run.

Also, Rich Peverley, who was claimed off waivers from Nashville on January 10, notched three assists in his first game against his former team. Peverley has one goal and five helpers in three tests with Atlanta and was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week for the period ending January 18.

The Thrashers are just 8-13-2 as the host this year and have lost four of their last six tests on home ice. Atlanta will play its final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday when it visits Philadelphia.

Montreal, which will host the All-Star Game on Sunday, has won two straight and six of its last seven outings.

The Habs earned a close victory their last time out, as they won at Ottawa on Saturday. Alex Kovalev and Maxim Lapierre both tallied in the shootout, as the Canadiens beat the Senators, 5-4, at Scotiabank Place.

Ottawa's Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson were both denied in the shootout, while the Habs converted on both their attempts. Kovalev faked out goaltender Brian Elliott and slid the puck past his pads on the left side. Lapierre ended the game with a beautiful backhanded shot under the crossbar.

Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn, Matt D'Agostini and Tom Kostopoulos scored for the Canadiens, who have won five straight games against Ottawa.

Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves to record the win in his eighth straight start for Montreal. Halak has been filling in as the starter for the injured Carey Price, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury and hasn't played since December 30.

However, Price, who was selected as the starting goaltender for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, will be in uniform tonight as the Canadiens have sent Marc Denis back to their AHL affiliate in Hamilton. It's still unclear if Price or Halak will get the start tonight.

The Canadiens are also close to having captain Saku Koivu (ankle) and Chris Higgins (shoulder) back in the lineup. Koivu has missed the last 16 games and hasn't played since December 11, while Higgins has sat out the last 17 contests. Both players are likely to return after this weekend's All-Star festivities.

Tonight, the Habs are playing the second test of a five-game road trip that will span the All-Star break. Montreal is 12-7-2 as the visiting club this year and has won five of its last seven away from Quebec.

Montreal edged the Thrashers, 5-4, in a home meeting on December 2 and has taken three straight and six of the last nine encounters between the clubs. The Habs were dealt losses in two of their previous three trips to Atlanta.

01/20 10:35:41 ET


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