NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, February 24th
(All times eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (30-21-8) at Montreal Canadiens (31-22-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens got themselves back on track with a
much-needed home victory their last time out, but the reeling club figures to
face a tougher test when the red-hot Vancouver Canucks enter the Bell Centre
Vancouver is riding a four-game winning streak following Saturday's emotional
shootout triumph in Toronto and is an outstanding 8-1-0 so far during the
month of February. The surge, which came after a season-long eight-game slide,
has propelled the Canucks into fifth place in the Western Conference standings
with 68 points.
The Canucks have dominated this series as well in recent years. Vancouver has
not lost in 11 straight meetings with Montreal, amassing 10 wins and a tie
over that span, and handed the Habs a 4-2 defeat when the teams faced off in
British Columbia earlier this month.
Vancouver also comes in off an uplifting 3-2 comeback win over the Maple Leafs
in Mats Sundin's return to Toronto. After the Canucks' Alex Burrows sent the
contest into overtime with under four minutes remaining in regulation, Sundin
sealed his former team's fate by recording the game-winning goal in the third
round of the shootout.
Sundin had spent the previous 13 seasons with Toronto before joining the
Canucks in December and finished his tenure as the Maple Leafs' all-time
leader with 420 goals and 987 points.
Roberto Luongo stopped 36-of-38 shots to help Vancouver to its fifth triumph
in its last six road tilts. The Canucks have won each of the first three
matchups of a current four-game road trip that concludes tonight.
Montreal had lost seven times in a seven-game span before downing rival Ottawa
Saturday at the Bell Centre. Alex Kovalev led the way in the 5-3 win with a
goal and two assists in his return from a team-mandated two-game absence.
Kovalev had been sent home early from the Canadiens' recent road trip last
Tuesday by general manager Bob Gainey, who criticized the veteran forward for
a lack of energy and emotion. The Russian standout, who turns 36 today, had
gone 10 straight games without a goal before lighting the lamp on Saturday.
Montreal also received an inspired performance from goaltender Jaroslav Halak,
who recorded 44 saves to help his team end a three-game skid.
Saturday's decision gave the Canadiens wins in seven of their last nine home
outings, and the team is a strong 18-6-4 as the host this season.
Montreal presently stands tied with the New York Rangers for fifth place in
the East with 69 points.
02/24 10:59:33 ET