NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, November 26th (All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (14-7-1) at Atlanta Thrashers (10-9-3), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers try to stretch their season-best winning streak to four games and will do so against a Montreal Canadiens club that will be giving one of the league's hottest goaltenders, Carey Price, a breather in tonight's meeting at Philips Arena.
After losing the opener of a six-game homestand to Florida on Nov. 17, Atlanta has ripped off three consecutive victories for the first time this season thanks to wins over Washington, the New York Islanders and Detroit. Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little both picked up a goal and an assist in Wednesday's 5-1 triumph over the Red Wings.
Ladd scored short-handed and Anthony Stewart notched a power-play goal. Chris Thorburn and Dustin Byfuglien also scored, while Ondrej Pavelec made 32 saves.
"We certainly did," Thrashers head coach Craig Ramsay said about his team playing its best game of the year. "We've played some good games against some good teams. Tonight we did it virtually the whole game. We did it with everybody."
Pavelec has appeared in each of Atlanta's last 10 games, making eight starts in that span. He could earn his fifth straight start in this one and has a 1.08 goals-against average over his last five appearances as well as a 1-0-1 record and 2.40 GAA in two career starts versus the Canadiens.
While Pavelec's hot run is more recent, Montreal has gotten great goaltending from Carey Price all season long. Price has allowed two goals or less in seven of his 11 games this month and made 24 saves in Wednesday's 4-1 triumph over the Kings. His 13 victories in 21 starts already matches his total from a season ago in 41 games and 39 starts.
Despite his hot run, the 23-year-old will get a rest tonight, with Alex Auld making his second start of the season and first since Oct. 29. He is 2-4-0 with a 3.54 GAA in his career versus the Thrashers and isn't worried about trying to earn more playing time with this start.
"I'm not looking at the future, that kind of thing is only a distraction," Auld told Montreal's website. "All I know is that I'm playing [Friday] night and that's all I care about."
In Wednesday's win, Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist, Lars Eller scored his first goal of the season and both Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec also scored as Montreal picked up its sixth victory in eight games.
The Habs and Canadiens split four meetings last year, though both of Atlanta's losses came past regulation. Montreal snapped a three-game slide in Atlanta on Dec. 21 of last year, but has still lost five of its last seven trips to Philips Arena.
11/26 10:51:26 ET