NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 1st (All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (33-23-7) at Atlanta Thrashers (26-26-11), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens will try to begin a three-game road trip with a victory when they visit the Atlanta Thrashers tonight at Philips Arena.
The Canadiens have won two of their last three games and the Habs ended a three-game road skid in their last outing away from Quebec. Montreal, which is just 13-15-1 as the guest this year, posted a 3-2 victory last Tuesday in Vancouver before splitting a two-game homestand against Toronto and Carolina.
The Habs are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference standings with 73 points. Montreal is three points behind Washington and three ahead of the New York Rangers.
After losing to Toronto on Thursday, the Canadiens bounced back with Saturday's win over the Hurricanes. Andrei Kostitsyn scored the tie-breaking goal on the man advantage with 3:53 remaining in the third period to lift the Habs to the 4-3 victory over Carolina.
Carolina rookie sensation Jeff Skinner went to the penalty box for holding at 14:10. As the power play was winding down, Kostitsyn managed to get his stick on Roman Hamrlik's shot from the left point, deflecting it past Cam Ward. It was Montreal's only power-play of the game, but the Habs made it count.
Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec joined Kostitsyn with a goal and an assist, while Montreal's Alex Auld stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced.
Auld started the contest after Montreal's regular No. 1 goalie Carey Price was scratched with flu-like symptoms. Price was able to serve as the backup on Saturday and is questionable for tonight's tilt.
Also on Saturday, the Habs debuted defenseman Brent Sopel, who was acquired from the Thrashers in a trade last Thursday. Sopel, who played a total of 59 games with Atlanta after getting dealt to the Thrashers from Chicago last summer, will get to face his old club tonight.
The Thrashers made some moves at Monday's trade deadline, getting forward Radek Dvorak from Florida for forwards Niclas Bergfors and Patrick Rissmiller and sending forward Freddy Modin to Calgary for a seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft. Atlanta also acquired a fifth-round pick in 2011 in the Dvorak deal.
In addition to those trades, Atlanta also signed defenseman Mark Stuart to a multi-year contract extension on Monday and claimed forward Rob Schremp off waivers from the New York Islanders. Stuart was acquired from Boston in a trade on Feb. 18 and has yet to register a point in four games with the Thrashers.
Atlanta has 63 points on the year and is just four behind Carolina for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East. The Thrashers aided their playoff push on Sunday with a 3-2 comeback victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Atlanta trailed 2-0 less than 10 minutes into Sunday's contest, but the Thrashers scored twice in the third period to send the game to overtime and Ron Hainsey tallied halfway through the extra session to complete the comeback win at Philips Arena.
In overtime, Johnny Oduya sent a pass from the right boards over to the left for Bryan Little, who left a drop pass for a streaking Hainsey. Hainsey sent a blistering wrister past Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the win.
Andrew Ladd and Tim Stapleton scored third-period goals for the Thrashers, who snapped a five-game slide. Chris Mason stopped 22 shots in the win.
"We had to win tonight," said Hainsey. "We've been losing so many games to teams that we're racing with."
Mason started Sunday's tilt after Atlanta's top goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was forced to miss the game with a right wrist injury. Pavelec will also miss tonight's tilt and Peter Mannino has been called from Chicago of the AHL to serve as the backup.
This evening's test marks the third tilt on a five-game homestand for Atlanta, which is 14-12-6 as the host this season.
Atlanta has won both games against the Canadiens this season and has taken four of five and six out of nine in this series. Montreal has dropped four of five and six of its last eight at Philips Arena.
03/01 11:00:15 ET