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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 23rd (All times eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (28-26-9) at Montreal Canadiens (33-20-9), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The hard-charging Montreal Canadiens will try to rebound tonight, as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.

Prior to this evening's contest Montreal will honor former Canadiens captain and current team general manager Bob Gainey by retiring his No. 23 sweater.

Gainey, who won four straight Selke Trophies as the league's top defensive forward, will be the 14th player in Montreal history to have his number retired and the second this season after Larry Robinson received the same treatment on November 19.

Montreal had a four-game winning streak broken on Thursday after losing to Pittsburgh, 5-4. The Penguins' Sergei Gonchar scored with 9:02 left in the third period to lift his club

Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Michael Ryder and Roman Hamrlik each scored while Cristobal Huet allowed all five goals on 30 shots for the Canadiens. Alexei Kovalev had two assists to give him four goals and five helpers over a five- game point streak.

Kovalev leads the Canadiens with 29 goals and 63 points this season.

Despite the setback, Montreal trails Ottawa by just a point for the top spot in both the Northeast Division and Eastern Conference.

The Canadiens have split the first two tests of their current four-game homestand that wraps versus Atlanta on Tuesday. The club is 14-11-5 at the Bell Centre this season.

The Blue Jackets gave the Canadiens somewhat of a hand last time out, defeating Ottawa, 3-2, in a shootout. Rick Nash scored in regulation, his team-high 32nd of the season, and also tallied the game-winner in the extra session as Columbus won for only the second time in its last seven games.

Pascal Leclaire made 27 saves for the win.

Sergei Fedorov scored his first goal in three games since missing 13 contests due to a concussion. He has nine goals and 19 assists in 49 games this season. Still, Fedorov, along with Adam Foote and Ron Hainsey are among those skaters that the Blue Jackets could deal before the trade deadline on Tuesday.

Columbus is 2-2-0 on a five-game road trip that concludes tonight and is 12-17-3 as the road club this year.

The Blue Jackets are visiting Montreal for the first time since November 11, 2003. The Habs are 3-2 with a tie all-time against Columbus and has won both meetings as the visitor in the series.

02/23 10:53:54 ET


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