NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 16th (All times eastern)
Ottawa Senators (23-21-4) at Montreal Canadiens (23-21-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Thanks to a big lift from an unexpected source, the Ottawa Senators were able to end a five-game losing streak their last time out. The injury-plagued club can now set it sights on breaking out of its scoring slump when it visits the rival Montreal Canadiens tonight at the Bell Centre.
Ottawa halted its frustrating slide on the strength of an outstanding performance from rookie goaltender Mike Brodeur. Making only his second NHL start, the 26-year-old recorded his first shutout to lead the Senators to a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Brodeur, called up from the minors after No. 1 netminder Pascal Leclaire was injured in practice the morning of the game, stopped all 32 shots he faced in his emergency appearance.
The game was scoreless until 1:14 left in regulation, when the Senators' Chris Campoli fired a wrister past the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead. Chris Kelly sealed the win shortly afterward with an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
"It was a great game, back-and-forth," Brodeur said. "The guys did a good job in front of me, made my job easy tonight."
Ottawa may need another strong showing from whomever is between the pipes tonight, considering the Senators have scored only seven goals over their past six contests and have been without standout forwards Daniel Alfredsson (separated left shoulder) and Jason Spezza (knee) for the last three weeks. In addition, left wing Milan Michalek, the team's leader with 16 goals this season, is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion sustained in a January 7 loss at Washington.
Alfredsson, who's missed 11 straight games, does appear to be close to a return, while defenseman Filip Kuba could be back in the lineup tonight after sitting out the last three outings with an upper-body injury. Leclaire is expected to be unavailable for a second straight time, however.
The Senators will be playing the fourth test of a five-game road trip that began with lopsided losses at Carolina and Atlanta and will attempt to improve upon a poor 7-13-1 record as the visitor this season.
Montreal wraps up a stretch of four straight home tilts tonight and has gone 2-0-1 thus far on the residency. After falling short in a 2-1 overtime loss to Atlantic Division leader New Jersey on January 9, the Canadiens rebounded with Thursday's 5-3 triumph over Dallas.
Brian Gionta's second goal of the game, a power-play marker with 12:46 left in the third period, snapped a 3-3 deadlock before Mike Cammalleri added an insurance tally with under 3 1/2 minutes left. Both Cammalleri and Benoit Pouliot finished with a goal and an assist to help back a 33-save effort from goaltender Carey Price.
"It was a tight game," said Gionta, who was playing in his 500th career game. "Tied going into the third and anytime you get the go-ahead goal, you get excited. We stuck with it and didn't lay back as much as we had in the past. Once we had the lead we took over."
The Canadiens have a chance to avenge a 4-2 road loss to the Senators on December 28, Ottawa's fourth victory in the past five meetings in this series. The Sens have also won in each of their last two visits to the Bell Centre, including a 3-1 verdict on October 17.
01/16 10:33:58 ET