NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 24th
(All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (30-37-6) at Montreal Canadiens (36-27-9), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The free-falling Montreal Canadiens will try to end their
longest losing streak of the season when they welcome the Atlanta Thrashers
for tonight's battle at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens have lost five straight games to give the club its longest skid
since dropping six in a row from February 6-17, 2007. Montreal has just one
win in six games (1-3-2) since general manager Bob Gainey took over head
coaching duties from the fired Guy Carbonneau.
The current losing streak has helped drop the Habs into a tie with Florida for
the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers lost
in overtime on Monday to draw even with the Habs at 81 points, but Montreal
can regain sole possession of the eighth seed tonight.
Montreal's last two setbacks have come in regulation and the Habs are coming
off Saturday's 5-2 loss to visiting Toronto. Alexei Ponikarovsky had two goals
and two assists to lead the Maple Leafs to the easy win over their hated
Maxim Lapierre tallied both goals for the Canadiens, while Jaroslav Halak gave
up all five goals on 37 shots.
The loss to Toronto marked the start of a five-game homestand for the Habs,
who are 21-8-6 as the host this season. The Canadiens have lost four straight
on home ice and last won at the Bell Centre on March 10 when Gainey led the
club to an overtime win against Edmonton in his first game behind the bench.
The Thrashers are 13th in the East, and with 66 points on the year have been
all but eliminated from postseason contention. However, Atlanta has seemed to
relish the spoiler role as it has won eight of its last 11 games.
Atlanta snapped a two-game losing streak its last time out, recording
Saturday's shootout victory in Tampa. Slava Kozlov scored the first goal of
the game and netted the winner in the shootout, as the Thrashers edged the
Lightning, 4-3, at St. Pete Times Forum.
After the first three shooters in the extra segment were turned away, Kozlov
fired a wrister past the stick side of Karri Ramo. Martin St. Louis was then
stopped by Johan Hedberg to end the game.
Kozlov, Todd White, and Ilya Kovalchuk each tallied a goal and an assist for
the Thrashers, while Hedberg made 26 saves in the win.
White has recorded a point in nine straight games, notching three goals and
seven assists during the tear. Kozlov has eight goals and four assists during
an eight-game point streak.
Atlanta has won four of its last five road games and is 16-18-4 as the
visiting club this season. The Thrashers will play their next three tests on
home ice, beginning with Thursday's matchup against the New York Rangers.
The Thrashers have taken two of three from Montreal this season and they have
won five of eight overall in the series. However, Atlanta has lost two in a
row and four of its last five in Quebec.
03/24 15:01:00 ET